Walden still banged up
Walden still banged up
Status of Cards’ reliever up in the air
MLB.com JUPITER, Fla. — One week away from the Cardinals' season opener in Pittsburgh, the status of reliever Jordan Walden only continues to get murkier.
Walden, who has complained of feeling a knot around his right shoulder area, asked the Cardinals for another two days of rest, meaning that, at most, the Cards would have three spring games remaining before he's cleared to pitch next. Even that may not be enough time for St. Louis to finish its evaluation of a pitcher who spent the final five months of the 2015 season on the disabled list.
'He has hesitation because he just can't get it going like he wants it to,' manager Mike Matheny said on Sunday. 'At some point, we're going to have to make a decision. We're going to listen to the medical team and continue to listen to Jordan and see what we've got.'
In addition to any concern about a potential re-aggravation of a previous rotator cuff injury, the length of Walden's layoff is soon to be an issue. He last pitched on Monday and has logged just two innings since March 13. The Cardinals had not only intended to see how Walden's arm responded to an increased workload over spring's final week, but they had also planned to test his health with consecutive outings at some point.
Now, there will be no time. 'We certainly don't want to go into a season where you already feel your bullpen is short,' general manager John Mozeliak acknowledged. 'So that's a concern.'
The late setback stalls what had otherwise been a strong spring showcase for Walden. He has walked one and scattered three hits over six scoreless Grapefruit League innings.
With each outing, concern about a lingering shoulder ailment had been waning.
He had, unofficially, earned back his bullpen spot.
'I liked how Jordan was throwing,' Matheny said.
'I liked having all that horsepower back there.'
Now, the uncertainty surrounding Walden could offer opportunity elsewhere. Although Matheny spoke of Tyler Lyons on Sunday in way that indicated he's all but set to be a member of the bullpen, still another spot would open if Walden begins the year on the DL.
Those other relievers still in the mix include Matt Bowman, Sam Tuivailala, Miguel Socolovich, Dean Kiekhefer and Juan Gonzalez.
By Jenifer Langosch