(Busch Stadium) It was a different path on the opposite side of the stadium, but Matt Bowman found his way into the visitors clubhouse at Busch Stadium. The former St. Louis Cardinals reliever is now part of the bullpen for the Cincinnati Reds.
“I can still use all my same cleats and undershirts that I was using,” Bowman chuckled. “It is my first time in here and it’s kind of funny to have gone into the other side so many times but have no clue what it’s like over here, but it’s nice.”
Diagnosed last season with Raynaud’s Syndrome, Bowman had surgery during the off-season and is no longer dealing with the numbness in his fingers that led to time on the injured list and eventually being optioned to Memphis (AAA).
“It was just a circulation issue,” Bowman explained. “Had some numbness and then some difficulty with the blisters because it wouldn’t heal due because there was no blood flow. So they went into the palm and they opened up the arteries in there a little bit to increase the blood flow to the fingers and it worked great. I thankfully haven’t thought about it since.”
A rather unique injury, Bowman was unable to find another player that had dealt with Raynaud’s Syndrome–which led to some questions if he would be able to return to the mound.
“Certainly towards the middle to end of last year, I was little bit concerned,” Bowman admitted. “I was rehabbing, even got sent down and was just in Triple-A trying to figure things out. Not only were the results not there, but it was very painful so everyday was a bit of a drag to have to get things going. It wasn’t totally clear that there was an option and it’s not like a shoulder issue or an elbow issue where there was a playbook on how to proceed, an MRI will clear things up and tell you exactly what the procedure is you might need to do. So in that sense, I was a little concerned about whether or not there was a solution to it.”
A Rule-5 Draft pick in 2016, Bowman appeared in 134 games in his first two seasons with St. Louis. He appeared in another 22 games before the circulation issues in 2018 led to time on the injured list and eventual option to Memphis. After the season, he was designated for assignment and then claimed off waivers by Cincinnati in November.
While dealing with Raynaud’s Syndrome wasn’t pleasant, there was the silver lining of his arm having time to bounce back after the heavy workload of his prior two seasons.
“Maybe, I thought about that this off-season,” Bowman said. “Once the Cardinals designated me, I was like alright as long as this hand gets better, it’s not the worst thing in the world that I didn’t throw that many innings last year–from my perspective. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would make, but certainly from a team’s perspective they might look at it and say hey, he got a year to recuperate a little bit and he’ll be fresh and ready to go.”
Recalled on May 24th, Bowman has appeared in six games for Cincinnati this season and has allowed three hits, one run, and struck out five batters in 5.2 innings. Similar to his role with St. Louis, he was told to “just be ready” for any situation. One batter, middle innings, back end of the game–Bowman is pain free and happy to pitch in any of those spots.
Interestingly, the one situation that Bowman is unsure of will be if he’s called in to pitch against the Cardinals. Not that it will be awkward facing old teammates, but rather that his contributions may not have been enough to garner the traditional St. Louis welcome back reception.
Reminded that his repeated trips in from the bullpen were not unnoticed by the Cardinals-faithful, he expressed some doubtful hope.
“Okay, if you say so,” Bowman smiled. “I’ll be impressed. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if that’s the case.”
photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull-STLBaseballWeekly.com