The return of Alex Reyes took another step forward this morning–actually about 40 steps as that was the number of pitches the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander delivered in a live batting practice session.
“My arm felt good, my body felt good, at this point, that’s really what we’re looking for,” said Reyes afterwards. “Later on, looking for more command, of course, and executing pitches.”
The session was split into two innings for Reyes, who sat down in the dugout after his first 20 pitches to replicate the up and down of a real inning.
“When you go out there, first, you want to know how you feel and kind of how you’ve recovered from your last one,” he continued. “Going into each of my live bp’s, I’ve been feeling good so most of the focus has been on trying to get a good feel for the fastball in the zone.”
No radar gun was handy but the velocity was evident on several of the deliveries, as the 23-year old right-hander broke a couple of bats.
“A few of them were on a sinker, so that’s definitely a good sign,” said Reyes, who noted his changeup was a little inconsistent, but down in the zone.
The entire Cardinals starting rotation gathered around the cage to watch the session–except for Adam Wainwright, who actually donned a helmet and was formally introduced as “Silver Slugger Adam Wainwright” by umpire Bud Norris, before he hit a line drive on the first pitch he saw from Reyes.
“A big, tall guy who can really swing the bat,” smiled Reyes. “He can hit. He was on the plate, which shocked me a little bit but yeah, he’s a big human being and he’s a good hitter. So I looked at him as a hitter.”
Besides Wainwright, Kolten Wong was among the hitters to take some at-bats.
“They took some good swings off me today–especially Waino,” said Reyes. “Gotta talk to Waino about what I can do better, but yeah, you see some of the hitters were a little behind the heater and in front of the changeup so tells you you’re still mixing speeds. The process is still a little bit a ways away, so it’s just staying in the moment and controlling what I can.”
Just shy of one month and one year since he underwent Tommy John surgery, Reyes will continue to build up his stamina and pitch count, as well as his control.
“I feel my stuff is competitive,” said Reyes. “I feel like it could play. Need to sharpen up, of course, and start throwing my off-speed in the actual live, but yeah, I think my stuff is there to compete.”
So with competitive stuff and an arm that is feeling good, how close is Alex Reyes to returning to the baseball schedule instead of following the trainer’s plan?
“We really haven’t gotten that far,” answered Reyes. “We come in day after day and focus on what that day holds for us. My job is to show up ready and ready for the next step.”
With only a couple weeks left of Spring Training, it may seem natural that temptation would lure the pitcher to want to face some hitters in a Grapefruit League game.
“Not necessarily, when you think of the big picture and the big picture is to be healthy throughout the whole season,” said Reyes. “If the signs say I need an extra month and they believe that, then so be it. I trust it and we’re just going to roll with whatever the staff has.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com