In terms of how long he spoke, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn may have had the shortest media session at the team’s recent Winter Warm-Up, which is ironic as he is being counted on to have one of the biggest impacts on the team in 2017.
“I feel good,” said Lynn, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery in November of 2015. “Normal throwing program since right before Christmas time. Everything’s gone well since last season, so just moving forward and getting ready for the season.”
Besides his record of 60-38 since moving into the rotation in 2012, the Cardinals will also benefit from the workload Lynn has shouldered in the past. He made 31+ starts and threw at least 175 innings each of those four seasons–over 2oo innings twice.
That kind of performance would give the team a fourth pitcher (Adam Wainwright 198.2, Carlos Martinez 195.1, Mike Leake 176.2) expected to be in that range. Then there’s the unknown of what Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and any other contributor to the rotation could bring.
“They say there’s competition every year, it figures itself out,” said Lynn, who will head to Florida next week and begin throwing bullpen sessions to finish tuning up for Spring Training. “We have a lot of guys that are capable of doing a lot of things–you need that as you saw last year. I’m just going to worry about myself, that’s what I’ve always done. It’s worked out for me so I think I’ll be all right.”
In the past, Lynn has expressed his fondness for the fastball. Now that his arm is back to full strength, will that affinity continue?
“If you look at the success I’ve had, why change?” he quipped. “Right? I’m going to be who I am, whether you like it or not.”
And back to full health, how much more of Lance Lynn can be as active member, instead of observer in the clubhouse?
“I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes,” he said with another smile. “I’ve been me for the last couple of years and it’s been fun. I enjoy my teammates, I enjoy competing with them and they enjoy competing with me. That’s what it’s all about and that’s pretty much the only way I take it.”
“I’d like to win a World Series, that’s the only thing that matters,” stated Lynn.
And while that is the goal on the field, there is the business waiting off of it. Lynn is entering the final year of his contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. A multi-year contract worth over $1oo million could be more than realistic if he replicates his past performance.
What kind of impact does that uncertainty have?
“It doesn’t,” said Lynn. “I’m a Cardinal. I’ve been a Cardinal and that’s how it’s going to be. When the season ends if I’m not a Cardinal, then I’ll figure out where I’m going to go after that. That’s the way I see it.”
Could contract talks take place during the season or is there a preference to table any discussions until afterwards?
“I’m sure Mo wants to make sure I can pitch before he talks to me about anything,” said Lance. “So, I’ll show him I can pitch and show him I’m back to being who I am and then we’ll go from there.”
That echoed the previous comments from General Manager John Mozeliak the day before.
“I think right now he has to show he can go pitch,” said Mozeliak. “There’s just not a lot we can do at this point. Cross that bridge when we have to.”
“I’m not exactly worried about numbers and all that,” added Lynn. “I’m going to go out there and help the team win. Everything else will take care of itself.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, St. Louis Baseball Weekly, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports