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Flaherty looks for sinker to complete repertoire

Motte tosses scoreless frame vs. O's; Schrock working toward spring games
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty is still trying to get the feel for his sinker so that he can have a full four-pitch repertoire as a starter.

The Cardinals' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, knows there will be some mistakes during the experimentation process, like leaving it thigh-high over the center of the plate for Baltimore's Manny Machado with the bases loaded in the third inning of the Cards' 10-9 Grapefruit League win on Wednesday.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty is still trying to get the feel for his sinker so that he can have a full four-pitch repertoire as a starter.

The Cardinals' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, knows there will be some mistakes during the experimentation process, like leaving it thigh-high over the center of the plate for Baltimore's Manny Machado with the bases loaded in the third inning of the Cards' 10-9 Grapefruit League win on Wednesday.

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"I'm still playing with it, seeing where the movement is at, and working on really getting it to the glove side," Flaherty said.

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Thanks to Machado's grand slam, Flaherty allowed four earned runs on four hits in two-plus innings. He struck out three and walked two.

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"It ran back over," Flaherty said of the 1-1 pitch Machado hit out of the park. "The same thing that happened against Schoop. Same pitch. I was trying to get the ball out there, and it ran back over. Schoop got a hit, and Machado did what he would normally do with it."

Although he is likely to start the season with Triple-A Memphis, Flaherty still has an outside shot to break camp in the Cardinals' starting rotation if he can show his secondary pitches can help him work deeper into ballgames.

"I think the movement he is putting on his fastball is going to be a big difference-maker for him to allow him to get to that potential third time [through the order] without his pitch count getting too high," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think he's got a nice repertoire."

Flaherty was named St. Louis' Minor League Player of the Year after registering a 2.18 ERA, 147 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings, 1.04 WHIP and 14 wins between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A (2.18). Flaherty got his first taste of the big leagues last season, making six appearances, five of which were starts. He notched an 0-2 record and a 6.33 ERA. He did manage to strike out 20 batters but walked 10 over 21 1/3 innings.

Video: Top Prospects: Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals

Motte impresses again
Reliever Jason Motte continued to strengthen his bid to return to the Cardinals' bullpen with another shutout inning in the fourth against the Orioles.

"We're giving him an opportunity, just like everyone else, to show us what his stuff looks like," Matheny said. "With him, its about execution and being able to locate. When you're not throwing 98 [mph] anymore, you've got to have good movement, and he has had good movement on that cutter."

Motte rejoined the Cardinals as a Minor League free agent on Feb. 19, hoping to recapture some of the success he found with the club before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. From 2010-12, Motte was one of the most dominant relievers in the National League, compiling a 2.96 ERA.

Injury updates
Second-base prospect Max Schrock said he plans to participate in a full baseball workout on Thursday. It'll be his first since straining his oblique on the first day of camp. He could debut in games as early as next week. Schrock, the club's No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was acquired in the offseason trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to the A's.

Right-hander Preston Guilmet, who was scheduled to throw in relief against Baltimore, did not travel to Sarasota with the team Wednesday as he continues to deal with a foot injury.

Up next
The Cardinals will return home to Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday to host the Twins at 12:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on the mound with left-hander Tyler Lyons set to make his spring debut in relief. Lefty Adalberto Mejia will get the start for the Twins. The game will be available on MLB.TV and through an exclusive audio webcast on MLB.com.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Flaherty, Preston Guilmet, Jason Motte