Focus On 2019 for Wacha

(Busch Stadium) As pitcher Adam Wainwright is looking to breathe new life into his season, it appears the year has come to an end for his teammate Michael Wacha.

Activated from the 60-day disabled list to start tonight’s game, Wainwright will be making his first appearance for the Cardinals since May 13th. Meanwhile, in the corresponding roster move, Wacha has been transferred from the 10-day to 60-day disabled list.

“Given the setback that Michael had, we’re running out of runway to get him ready to comeback this year so Michael’s basically going to start looking towards 2019,” said General Manager Michael Girsch.

After playing catch and successful bullpen sessions, Wacha had been scheduled to make a rehab assignment with Memphis this past Friday, but was scratched due to a return of tightness in his side.

“He felt good enough that he was in Memphis,” said Girsch. “He went down there ready to go and it just started to bother him again. It’s one of those things, I think once he has it every cough, every sneeze, every time he laughs, he just starts to feel it and it just didn’t make sense to push it. If you can feel it, it’s not ready to go.”

Basically shut down for the year, Girsch acknowledged there was a slim chance that if St. Louis went on an extended post season run Wacha could return. But that’s a very slim chance.

“I don’t want to say like it’s impossible, but we’re sort of turning our focus to 2019,” reiterated Girsch. “Our expectation is he’s not going to pitch again this year.”

The expectation for Wainwright is different as Girsch shared he was “cautiously optimistic” on what the right-hander would deliver tonight. Wainwright made six rehab appearances in which he threw 17.0 scoreless innings. His last two starts were for Memphis and Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp described the outings as “phenomenal”.

“We’re excited,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. “On the plane last night walking off, I turned to him and said ‘you get to pitch tomorrow’ and he just had this look in his eye of pure joy and excitement. We’re all excited to see what it looks like and have him compete and have him go out in front of our home fans.”

So what is the realistic expectation for Wainwright pitching?

“He’ll be treated like a starter,” replied Shildt. “Every night a starter goes out there it’s an evaluation of what it looks like and how the competition’s going. It will be no different with Adam tonight. But he’s more than earned the opportunity to go pitch and he built up with his pitches to 91 last time out in Memphis and he’s got plenty of rest obviously, so it will just be an evaluation of what it looks like.”

Shildt also shared that the Cardinals have again adjusted their rotation with Daniel Poncedeleon now starting instead of Austin Gomber on Wednesday. Moving past that into the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers should be announced tomorrow.

MOLINA AND MORE MEDICAL UPDATES

–Progress is being made, but catcher Yadier Molina does not yet have a return date circled from his left hamstring issue.

“Yadi is starting to do some baseball stuff, starting to move around a little bit, making progress,” said Girsch. “Hopefully, he makes an appearance on this homestand. We don’t know too much more to narrow it down beyond that yet. He’s just starting to sort of move around enough to see where he stands. We’ll progress him as fast as we can while being smart about his progression.”

Infielder Jedd Gyorko was hitting in the cage today and is expected sometime later this week to be ready to go.

Pitcher Mike Mayers is back in St. Louis and checked out okay from his 1.0 inning rehab appearance from Memphis last night. He is expected to be activated from the DL tomorrow.

photo credit: Jeff Curry, Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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