The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that they placed right-hander Carlos Martínez on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to May 9) with a right ankle sprain. The club recalled Johan Oviedo from Triple-A Memphis in a corresponding move.
After his last start on Saturday, Martínez revealed he had hurt his ankle slipping on the dugout stairs while celebrating Jack Flaherty’s first career home run on Friday. Martínez went to see the training staff early Saturday and got the thumbs up to pitch, but he said the ankle affected his pitching mechanics and played a part in him giving up five runs in five innings.
Continued imaging and monitoring of Martínez’s ankle showed the sprain was in a position that could make it risky to allow him to play on it, so instead, the Cardinals decided to shut him down.
“As the medical team sort of looked at it a little deeper, they realized where the sprain is, it's in a spot that is in less than five percent of where sprains are. So it's not in a great place,” manager Mike Shildt said prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Brewers at American Family Field. “It's not severe, it's just not in a great place, and they were worried about continued stress on it, exacerbating and causing something that could move on for a prolonged period of time. So, [we’re] doing the prudent thing.”
Though both Martínez and the staff were optimistic that the injury wouldn’t force him onto the shelf, it likely won’t be until at least St. Louis’ home series against the Cubs next week that Martínez may return to the mound. This season, Martínez is 3-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 41 1/3 innings.
“They don't think it's a long-term issue, but it's something they want to get behind him,” Shildt said. “He won't be active for at least 10 days and we'll evaluate it after that point, but we have a good replacement, Mr. Oviedo, that will take his spot in the rotation.”
Oviedo has made three appearances -- two starts and one out of the bullpen -- in 2021, but he has become something of an insurance option for the Cardinals this season. Tuesday marked the fourth time this season that Oviedo had been recalled from either Memphis or the alternate training site.
“It's challenging,” right fielder Dylan Carlson said on Tuesday about being called up and optioned down throughout a season. Carlson moved back and forth from the alternate training site multiple times in 2020 before being recalled for good on Sept. 18.
“You've definitely got to stay focused and understand the task at hand,” Carlson added. “Normally there's something to work on every time you go down there, and when you keep your focus on that, it makes it a lot easier.”
Oviedo is 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA and has nearly averaged a strikeout-per-inning this season (13 K's in 13 2/3 innings), but he’s coming off a start for Memphis on Sunday in which he allowed four earned runs and a home run in 2 2/3 innings. Oviedo is scheduled to start at San Diego on Friday night.
• Shildt revealed the Cards' current taxi squad on Tuesday: catcher Ali Sánchez and pitcher Junior Fernández. Shildt said the club will be keeping a smaller taxi squad now that the Minor League season is in full swing, which will allow players to get more consistent in-game opportunities with the Minor League teams.