Gyorko: 'Heck yeah, I want that strikeout ball'

Infielder confirms his 68 mph strikeout pitch was a changeup

April 27th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Shildt wasn’t sure of the proper protocol. Do you motion to the dugout from the mound? Make the move by talking to an umpire?

So he simply told infielder to walk alongside him to the mound.

Gyorko’s ninth-inning pitching appearance may have energized what remained of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium, but it was hardly the sort of entertainment the Cardinals had intended to provide as they opened a series against Cincinnati. Gyorko’s summons, which came with two out in the top of the ninth, represented a white flag of sorts in what finished as a 12-1 defeat to the Reds.

“It’s never good that I’m pitching,” Gyorko said. “It usually means something bad has happened.”

Indeed, it wasn’t good. Shildt turned to Gyorko after -- the fourth Cards' reliever to pitch in the game -- was tagged for six runs. Gyorko, who made his pro pitching debut last June against the Marlins, got loose during his series of warmup pitches on the mound. Pinch-hitter  then stepped in to face him.

Ervin swung through Gyorko’s first pitch (78 mph), laid off the next (80 mph) and fouled off the third (76 mph). Gyorko’s final pitch registered 68 mph on the radar gun -- “a changeup,” Gyroko confirmed -- and Ervin swung and missed. It represented the first time Gyorko had struck out a batter since high school.

That’s why, as he walked off the mound, he asked to keep the baseball.

“Heck yeah, I want that strikeout ball,” Gyorko said. “That’s probably going to be the top of the list. Put that on top of everything else.”

That’s because pitching, Gyorko acknowledged, had never been in his plans.

“I had a hard time getting high school kids out,” Gyorko said. “So I think I found my calling.”

Wacha to start Monday

Having come through his side session on Friday without issue,  has been named St. Louis’ starter for Monday’s game against the Nationals. That means Wacha will have missed only one start while on the 10-day injured list with left knee patellar tendinitis.

Following Wacha in that four-game series will be starters ,  and .

Martinez ready for relief

Speaking publicly for the first time since the Cardinals announced their intentions to prepare  as a reliever, the right-hander said on Saturday that he is “comfortable right now in that decision.”

“Right now, I’m going to help the team from the bullpen,” he added. “Maybe after the All-Star break I can get back to starting.”

The Cardinals aren’t projecting the likelihood of such a midseason transition, but they are engaging with Martinez this weekend to set a more formal rehab schedule for the weeks ahead. It’s likely that Martinez will soon be headed to Florida to face hitters in a live batting practice setting.

Martinez, who threw a side session on Friday, is looking forward to that next step.

“I feel much better,” he said. “I’m 85 percent right now.”