Mikolas (shoulder) shut down for 7-10 days

March 13th, 2021

Cardinals right-hander will be shut down from throwing for around 7-10 days as the club looks to fully eliminate the shoulder soreness that has plagued the pitcher through the start of camp.

MRIs conducted Wednesday showed no structural damage to Mikolas’ right shoulder, which gives the club hope that a reset period will allow Mikolas to fully move past the ailment.

“Light of positivity from that,” manager Mike Shildt said.

Mikolas, 32, is coming off July surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm, which kept him out of the shortened 2020 season. He reported to camp feeling fresh, diving into his ramp-up routine with a watchful eye but without much in the way of restraints.

Mikolas had been penciled for a bullpen session last weekend before the club pushed those plans back to Wednesday to give him more time to move past the soreness. Mikolas took part in “aggressive” throwing in the interim, mostly through catch or long-toss, but the soreness never improved to an acceptable point.

Mikolas told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his elbow and forearm have felt good to this point of camp.

Whenever Mikolas faces live hitters next, it will be his first time doing so since Feb. 25, meaning his ramp-up will likely be set back from where he left off. His return date, already pushed past Opening Day, is to be determined.

Slotted in for the third or fourth spot in the rotation, Mikolas’ spot is now an open competition. Behind Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Kwang Hyun Kim, Carlos Martínez has seemed to secure himself a rotation job, while John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon are the likely candidates to take the No. 5 spot.

Mikolas last pitched in Game 1 of the 2019 National League Championship Series, taking a tough-luck loss in a 2-0 defeat to the Nationals. He lost an NL-high 14 games that season, a year removed from an All-Star appearance and an NL-high 18 victories following three years spent pitching in Japan. Signed through 2023, Mikolas is in the second year of a four-year extension.

Letters from a dub
• Yadier Molina took liftoff in Friday's 4-3 win over the Astros, hammering a 414-foot, two-run homer into the Roger Dean Stadium night with a 106.9 mph exit velocity, per Statcast. Compared to regular-season games, it was Molina’s hardest-hit ball since June 2018. And it came as he played all nine innings for the first time this spring.

“Not too bad for an old man, right?” Molina joked.

• Wainwright continues to have a strong spring. He allowed only two baserunners while striking out three over four scoreless innings, and he could have easily gone deeper had the Cards not needed to get more arms into the game.

Wainwright has allowed one run on two hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in nine innings through three Grapefruit League starts. His ramp-up for his 16th season with the Cardinals couldn't be going much better.

“Got through four, and he goes, ‘I can go nine tonight,’” Shildt said. “And it was sincere. It wasn’t in jest. He’s like, ‘I can do this.’ Of course, we’re not going to let him do it, not even halfway through the games of Spring Training. But that’s who he is.”

• Outfielder Tyler O’Neill also continued his hot spring, hitting an opposite-field, two-run home run, his second homer of the spring, to boost his Grapefruit League RBI tally to eight. A rejuvenated mindset has O'Neill securing his spot in left field by the game.

More from the trainer’s room
Outfielder Matt Szczur has not appeared in a game since March 2, and that’s because he is dealing with a left quad ailment, Shildt said. The hope is that Szczur can return to action by Sunday or Monday.

“Very light quad issue, but significant enough to keep him out for a week,” Shildt said. “Somewhat [of a] precaution, obviously some of it necessary.”

Szczur is looking to elevate himself into the outfield mix, likely in a bench/spot-starting role. The 31-year-old is a non-roster invitee who spent last season with the Phillies organization following five Major League seasons from 2014-18 with the Cubs and Padres.

Worth noting
After showing out in a “B” game, Jordan Hicks’ next outing will come in a to-be-determined Grapefruit League contest, Shildt said, and it will mark Hicks' first time in an officially-scored game since June 22, 2019. The right-hander had Tommy John surgery after that, and he opted out of the 2020 season as a high-risk individual due to his type 1 diabetes. His next outing could come this weekend against the Marlins or Mets.