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Martinez set for rehab start; Fowler cleared

Right-hander (lat strain) scheduled for Double-A outing Thursday
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez took a major step this week in his return to the rotation, throwing off a mound for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a strained right lat. The next step will come Thursday, when Martinez is scheduled to make a rehab start at Double-A Springfield.

Martinez will throw between 50-60 pitches in an "abbreviated" outing against the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros' Double-A affiliate, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. He said the club will re-evaluate Martinez before determining whether he will require another rehab start.

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MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez took a major step this week in his return to the rotation, throwing off a mound for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a strained right lat. The next step will come Thursday, when Martinez is scheduled to make a rehab start at Double-A Springfield.

Martinez will throw between 50-60 pitches in an "abbreviated" outing against the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros' Double-A affiliate, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. He said the club will re-evaluate Martinez before determining whether he will require another rehab start.

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If he doesn't, Martinez would line up to rejoin the Cardinals' rotation as early as June 5 against the Marlins in St. Louis.

"We'll wait and see," Matheny said.

One of the top starters in the National League and working on a career year, Martinez was 3-2 with a 1.62 ERA across eight starts before complaining of shoulder soreness May 9. Subsequent testing revealed a mild strain in his right lat, an injury the club hoped would sideline Martinez for just one start. Instead, he's missed three turns through the rotation and would miss up to five if a second rehab start were to be required. Martinez has not discussed his injury publicly and hasn't traveled with the club on the past two road trips, opting to remain with the training staff in St. Louis.

Fowler cleared to enter off bench
Right fielder Dexter Fowler took on-field batting practice Tuesday for the first time since being hit with a fastball on the right knee Saturday in Pittsburgh, further strengthening the Cardinals' belief that he will avoid a disabled list stint.

Fowler passed speed and agility drills earlier in the day, after which trainers cleared him to come off the bench tonight if necessary.

Video: STL@PIT: Fowler exits after being hit by a pitch

Fowler hasn't started any of the three games since he was struck with a Trevor Williams fastball. Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill have earned the playing time in his place, though both were starting regularly before Fowler's injury. The veteran outfielder had been reduced to a part-time role lately after hitting .157/.276/.288 over the season's first two months.

"We needed to see him run. Yesterday he hit in the cage but wasn't able to run," Matheny said. "That was kind of that hurdle we were still waiting to see him get over."

Draft reps announced
Each year, dignitaries from across the baseball world descend on MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J., to represent each club in the annual MLB Draft. Former Cardinals outfielder Bernard Gilkey and his son, Jaelen Gilkey, will represent St. Louis this June, MLB announced Tuesday.

A versatile outfielder with power and speed, Bernard Gilkey played in six seasons with the Cardinals, hitting .282/.354/.431 across 593 games from 1990-95.

The Draft will begin live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a Draft preview show, also simulcast on MLB.com, at 5 p.m. CT. The Draft will have 40 rounds, and a club may pass on its selection in any round and not forfeit its right to participate in other rounds. The 2018 Draft will span three days, as it has since 2009. For Day 1 on Monday, Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A will air exclusively on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Beginning with the first pick in Round 2 and continuing through overall pick No. 78, the Draft will air live exclusively on MLB.com, while MLB Network will continue to provide live look-ins and coverage of the Draft on MLB Tonight. The intervals between selections during Round 1 will last four minutes, followed by one-minute intervals between selections for the remainder of Day 1.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Carlos Martinez