Flaherty makes 1st rehab start: 'He felt good'

July 28th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- Eight weeks after exiting a start against the Dodgers with a left oblique strain, returned to the mound for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday night. Flaherty threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three of the seven batters he faced.

After throwing 31 pitches in the game, Flaherty threw another 14 in the bullpen to complete his scheduled workload for the day.

“He felt good afterwards,” manager Mike Shildt said. “I texted him real quickly. Good start for him, obviously. How he recovers, I’m not sure, but he felt good after and was pleased.”

Flaherty’s next step is another start for Memphis on Tuesday at Durham. Between Flaherty, Miles Mikolas (who makes his second rehab start Thursday as he returns from right forearm tightness) and Daniel Ponce de Leon (who was scheduled for his second rehab start Wednesday night as he returns from right shoulder discomfort), the Redbirds have a pretty good rehab rotation going right now.

As for when those options will be ready to impact the Major League staff, Ponce de Leon is closest, whereas Mikolas and Flaherty won’t be options until mid-August at the earliest.

Flaherty is obviously a particular focal point, given the impact his absence has had on the Cardinals at large. But the team is being careful not to rush him.

“We want to be smart,” Shildt said. “You know, we recognize that days aren’t getting added to the calendar, to the regular season, but we also need to make sure he’s healthy.”

Hot-hitting Harrison

Hit more, and you hit higher. That’s how it works.

Harrison Bader’s spot in the Cardinals’ lineup moved up from seventh to sixth for Wednesday’s series finale at Progressive Field -- affirmation of his monster month. In 20 July games leading up to Wednesday, Bader went 28-for-73 with five homers, seven doubles and 16 RBIs.

What’s clicked?

“My observation and being with him since Triple-A, it’s similar to Kolten [Wong],” Shildt said. “They’ve got amazing skill sets, they’ve got pop, they also can run, they also have bat control. The game rewards power. But the game got even more [oriented toward] the homers. So you saw guys trying to figure out what kind of player they need to be. The power can sometimes get in the way.”

What Shildt means is that sometimes young players chase power at the expense of their bat-to-ball skills.

“Power is important, we love it, it’s great,” Shildt said. “But he’s getting [power] as a byproduct of being in the strike zone and putting a good swing on the baseball and trying to use the whole field.”

Waino wants to represent U.S.

After a 13-year wait, baseball finally returned to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this week. The International Olympic Committee had suggested the temporary inclusion of additional sports at the Tokyo Games, and the organizers proposed men’s baseball and women’s softball because of their immense popularity in Japan.

Alas, baseball and softball won’t be part of the next Summer Olympics, in Paris in 2024. But whenever or wherever baseball returns to that stage, Adam Wainwright wants in. He tweeted this week about his willingness to serve in literally any role on the next U.S. baseball squad:

Asked about the tweet, the 39-year-old Wainwright made it clear he understands that age will inhibit his Olympic dream.

“There's a very, very, very, very, very high percentage [chance] that I'm not going to be pitching in the next Olympics,” he said with a smile. “But we'd love to be there in some way, shape or form, whatever that is, you know, that'd be great.”