ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals made a flurry of roster moves to rejuvenate their bullpen Saturday. Four players who pitched in Friday night’s 14-2 loss are now off the active roster, giving the Cardinals fresh arms for the rest of the series against the Indians at Busch Stadium.
Right-handers Daniel Ponce de Leon -- who did not make it out of the first inning in his start Friday -- and Junior Fernández, as well as infielder Max Schrock, were optioned to the alternate site. Lefty Ricardo Sánchez was placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow pain. Manager Mike Shildt said that Sánchez experienced “soreness in his forearm” and will have imaging done to determine the next step.
Ponce de Leon will report to Springfield with homework. The 28-year-old has struggled to throw consistent strikes since being moved to the rotation at the beginning of the season, replacing an injured Miles Mikolas. In his 41 pitches Friday, he registered just one swing and miss. In his previous outing, he saw just six swings and misses in 93 pitches.
“I just got done talking to Ponce, and he understood the move,” Shildt said. “You’re never far off either way in this game sometimes. I don’t feel like Ponce is way, way off. Clearly things snowballed a little bit. ‘Go down and work on some of the things we’ve talked about’ and some things he needs to work on as well.”
The Cardinals will replace Ponce de Leon in the rotation with Johan Oviedo, the club’s No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Oviedo helped the Cards through their stretch of games in Chicago, debuting against the Cubs. He pitched well enough to stay with the club and tossed five innings, allowing two runs, against the Pirates in Game 2 of the doubleheader Thursday.
“What I appreciate about him is he finds a way to throw strikes and not make the situation bigger than it is,” Shildt said. “He competes, is a good competitor and he kind of goes from there.”
Ponce de Leon will also have an eye on being the 29th man in the upcoming doubleheaders. After a three-game series in Cincinnati early next week, the Cardinals have three doubleheaders in six days and will need pitching help.
St. Louis is also targeting Carlos Martínez (COVID-19 injured list) for one of those twin bill starts. The right-hander threw two innings of live batting practice in Springfield on Thursday and will likely be able to build up to 70-75 pitches over the next week, Shildt said.
“Looked like he had good fastball slider command, good movement to all his pitches,” Shildt said. “Everything looked like it was on the plate. Recovered well. Seemed like it was a positive next step for him.”
• Catcher Matt Wieters (left big toe contusion) was running the bases and in the outfield before Saturday’s game. Shildt said that he will likely go on next week’s road trip with the Cardinals and be activated at some time during it.
• Both the Cardinals and Indians continued to wear No. 42 on Saturday, following Major League Baseball’s celebration of Jackie Robinson Day on Friday. A number of players, including Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, also wore Jackie Robinson-themed high socks.
"With everything going on, those were starting to be created a while ago, and they just got finished not too long ago," Flaherty said. "Really just trying to continue conversation and continue to push for justice for everybody.”