PITTSBURGH -- It took less than a day for the news of Alex Reyes' latest -- and ostensibly last -- rehab start to spread up the Mississippi, turn due east, and trickle through the Cardinals' clubhouse. For those not in Memphis on Thursday night, Reyes' stat line sounded like some
PITTSBURGH -- It took less than a day for the news of Alex Reyes' latest -- and ostensibly last -- rehab start to spread up the Mississippi, turn due east, and trickle through the Cardinals' clubhouse. For those not in Memphis on Thursday night, Reyes' stat line sounded like some sort of fiction, or maybe even folklore. And to a man, the reciting of it sparked a consistent question: "What's next?"
It's a question with both short- and long-term answers. Club officials are hesitant to commit to Reyes' exact return day, though Tuesday or Wednesday in Milwaukee appears the most likely. They also continue to preach a wait-and-see approach to how Reyes' arrival affects the back end of their rotation, specifically the roles of Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver.
But club officials are not shying away from what Reyes' imminent return means for his long-term status, or how his workload will be managed going forward. Because Reyes, the Cardinals' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was essentially given an extra month to recover from Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals say he shouldn't be bound by any special constraints.
"Right now, I don't anticipate any restrictions," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said.
In-game, Reyes will be subject to standard pitch count and high-stress inning assessments, not different parameters tailored specially for him. He broke the 90-pitch barrier in each of his final two rehab starts. His career high in pitches thrown is 115, two years ago in Chicago. Staying within that range qualifies as standard for any 23-year-old prospect in 2018.
And looking ahead, Reyes should be in line to pitch through the rest of the season, either without eclipsing his previous career high in innings or doing so without blowing by it. By delaying his return, the club doesn't foresee having to shut Reyes down for the postseason, if the Cardinals were to get there.
"The easiest way to answer that is I don't anticipate any restrictions," Mozeliak reiterated. "We've tried to position this so we never have to have that conversation."
They did so by essentially making Reyes off limits for two months, placing him on the 60-day DL on the season's opening weekend to clear 40-man space for Greg Holland. Holland's first two months in St. Louis have been disappointing, the former All-Star closer allowing nearly a run and more than a walk per inning over 17 appearances. But his arrival did force the club to delay Reyes', after it initially mapped out a May 1 return date for the righty.
That extra month may prove the difference between Reyes potentially pitching in October or not.
"My concern was we were going to go through spring and always think, 'What about Reyes? What about Reyes?'" Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I applaud the fact the front office and training staff took the route that they took. If left to us, I think we would've found room for him a while ago. That's not the safest thing to do for him or the best for our club."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.