Reyes faces live hitters for first time since May

Mikolas looks to use changeup more in 2019, will start spring opener

February 19th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- While a crowd gathered around Field 2 to watch face , and in his first session of live batting practice on Tuesday, , mostly inconspicuously, headed to a mound a few yards away for his most meaningful throws in almost nine months.

Non-roster infielder stepped in as the first batter to face Reyes since May 30, which was the first and last start Reyes made for the Cardinals last season. Reyes struck out Ravelo before continuing on to face and without any hint of hesitation or limitation.

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"It went well," Reyes confirmed afterward.

None of the hitters took a swing against Reyes, but the exercise allowed them to track pitches and offer feedback to Reyes about what they saw. It also represented a step forward for Reyes that came earlier than expected.

Initially scripted to delay his first live batting-practice session until later in camp, Reyes looked strong enough last week in his two bullpen sessions that he received clearance for the next exercise. He is on track to be ready for inclusion in the team's Grapefruit League pitching plans and possibly push himself into consideration for a place on the team's Opening Day roster.

"He is in a good spot," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said, "And we feel good about progressing Alex."

Mikolas embraces a "change"

Likely foreshadowing what's to come at the start of the regular season, will throw out the Cardinals' first pitch in Grapefruit League play on Saturday, Shildt announced on Tuesday. will follow him, with both pitchers slated to throw about 40 pitches in the team's opener against the Marlins.

As Mikolas preps for his second season with the Cardinals, he has unearthed his changeup, a pitch that he had mostly abandoned in recent years. The right-hander shelved it in Japan when he started to throw a slider and went a full month last year without throwing a single one.

The pitch was resurrected this offseason and has been a focus so far in camp.

"That's something I obviously want to work on, a pitch I want to have," said Mikolas, who threw his changeup 4.4 percent of the time, according to Statcast™. "This is a chance to use it a lot and give a different look."

Mikolas received feedback on the pitch from the three hitters -- Molina, Carpenter and Goldschmidt -- he faced in live BP on Tuesday. He also toyed with "outside-the-box sequences" during the session to see how the hitters reacted.

"It's a consequence-free environment," Mikolas said. "It was good, positive feedback to get early in camp."

Worth noting

• In addition to announcing his pitching plans for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener, Shildt revealed that and are slated to throw in Sunday's game against Washington.

• The decision not to have throw live BP with the other pitchers this week is part of the Cardinals' efforts to regulate his spring workload. Instead of facing hitters on Tuesday, Hicks threw his third bullpen session of spring.