Cardinals activate Gyorko from injured list

Utility man returns to St. Louis, Robinson optioned to Triple-A

April 5th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Jedd Gyorko, one of five Cardinals to begin the season on the injured list, was added back to the active roster prior to Friday’s home opener. To create space for the roster move, the Cardinals optioned utility man Drew Robinson to Triple-A Memphis.

Sidelined by a right calf strain for the final three weeks of Grapefruit League play, Gyorko stockpiled at-bats in Minor League spring games last week to work out his timing at the plate. He also logged time at multiple defensive positions in preparation for what he’ll be asked to do as a bench player this year.

“Everything feels good,” Gyorko said. “Hopefully I’ll do what I can to help out around here. It’s good to be back.”

He has prepped for a role different than the one he had in 2018, when he opened the year as the team’s starting third baseman. Instead, Gyorko is poised to make his biggest impact off the bench, where he has a .670 OPS in 67 career pinch-hit at-bats.

Ozuna gets the OK
An MRI showed nothing more serious than a contusion for left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who notified the Cardinals’ medical staff of discomfort on his right side prior to Wednesday’s game. The issue, Ozuna said, originated from taking a pitch off his side during the final days of Spring Training.

The Cardinals had previously been unaware of any lingering discomfort.

“Obviously, we would have liked to have known sooner that he wasn’t feeling quite right,” said president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. “But hopefully our medical staff can catch this early enough that it won’t prevent him from losing time and more importantly, it can get him on track from a baseball standpoint.”

Mozeliak agreed that the issue could explain Ozuna’s troublesome start at the plate. Not only has Ozuna begun 0-for-6 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position, but as the team’s cleanup hitter, Ozuna has posted a hard-hit rate (15.6 percent) that ranks in the bottom six percent of the league, according to Statcast.

“He’s finding himself in more defensive counts,” Mozeliak said. “When you look back to when he had that MVP-caliber year [in 2017], he was just very aggressive and that’s something that I hope we start to see where he’s a guy who can drive the ball to all fields. We started to see that at the end of Spring Training, and then of course after getting hit by a pitch, we feel like he took a step back. Ultimately, we still feel like he has a very bright future for us and that he’ll be an impactful player.”

Martinez on the mend
Carlos Martinez
rejoined the club in St. Louis, which is where he’ll continue his rehab work for the foreseeable future.

Martinez has stretched his flat-ground throwing out to a distance of 120 feet and will continue through that exercise for the next week. Manager Mike Shildt said that the Cardinals have targeted April 13 as the date Martinez will look to get back on the mound for his first bullpen session since the opening week of Spring Training.

“I feel great,” said Martinez, who has been recovering from a right rotator cuff strain. “I am at 80 percent right now. I feel no pain.”

The Cardinals will wait a while longer before making the call as to whether they’ll have Martinez build up as a starter or reliever. Need will factor into that decision, as will workload and recovery concerns.

“We recognize that what we’ve been doing in the past isn’t sustainable,” Mozeliak said. “So things have to change. I think part of that equation is his preparation [and] what he puts into it. Right now, if I had to give him a grade as a student, he’s been an A. He’s being very compliant in what he needs to do.”

Worth noting
• Dakota Hudson was available out of the ‘pen on Friday before turning his focus toward his next scheduled start, which will come on Tuesday. The Cards had to move that start date up one day due to the postponement of the home opener.

• Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) threw one inning in relief on Thursday to open a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Palm Beach (Fla.). Gregerson allowed one run on two hits in the appearance.

• Triple-A Memphis, the defending Pacific Coast League champs, began its season with a 9-2 victory over Omaha on Thursday. Austin Gomber allowed one run over five innings while not walking a batter. Infielder Ramon Urias contributed a two-run homer.