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Belisle tosses simulated game, feels good

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle could hardly contain his excitement on Sunday after throwing a simulated game against hitters.

The veteran righty tossed two innings and threw a total of 27 pitches against outfielder Matt Holliday and first baseman Matt Adams before the rest of the Cardinals came out for batting practice.

"We treated it just like a real game," Belisle said. "That was far and away the best yet. It was a blast and I felt good. I gave up a couple hits on my fifth pitch, which is the changeup. I kind of have a new grip on it and I wanted to really work on it. The other encouraging thing is both Holliday and Adams looked really, really strong, too. So it was a good, good day."

Belisle has missed the last 62 games with right elbow inflammation but feels like he's getting close to returning. 

"We'll re-assess after this work load that we just put on and see how it responds," he said. "I've been champing at the bit, and they've been reining back a little bit just to make sure that when they get me back, it's me and not anything else. I feel confident about where I am today."

In his first season in St. Louis after spending all of his career previously with the Reds and Rockies, Belisle appeared in 30 games with the Cardinals earlier this year and posted a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA. He's struck out 24 and batters are hitting .284 against him. 

When he met with reporters before the game, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he couldn't offer a timetable for the reliever's return because he hadn't spoken to him or pitching coach Derek Lilliquist yet. 

"I haven't spoken to see how he threw today, but I know he's feeling better," Mozeliak said. "One bad thing is we've sort of run out of places to rehab, but we'll just see how today went and then decide what the next step will be."

Worth noting

• Mozeliak said he thinks Holliday and Adams will be back by mid September. 

"I do think Holliday is going to be sooner than Adams," Mozeliak said.

Setup man Jordan Walden, acquired along with Jason Heyward in the offseason trade with the Braves, continues to be plagued by a right shoulder issue that has caused him to miss 113 games and counting. 

"If his decision is to not have surgery, then he's going to have to have a very rigorous offseason with therapy, and it's going to be a tough go," Mozeliak said. "If he succeeds with that, then I think next year he has a possibility. Right now, it's not looking great."

Asked what kind of surgery Walden would need, Mozeliak explained that it would "likely be a rotator repair" and said the situation is similar to what former Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder dealt with. 

In 2005, Mulder went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA. But then a shoulder injury limited him to 17 games the following season, and then a total of only six more Major League games in his career after having surgery.

Nate Latsch is a contributor to
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