(Busch Stadium) The St. Louis Cardinals will be making a change to their starting rotation, as pitcher Michael Wacha has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left patellar tendinitis.
“He had some flare up in his left knee,” Manager Mike Shildt explained. “Something he’s had in the past, it occurred in a recovery workout from a start and just didn’t feel like he was going to be able to go.”
The discomfort occurred during a recovering workout for Wacha, who was coming off his first victory of the season this past Wednesday in which he struck out seven in 6.0 innings against Milwaukee. His 24 strikeouts on the season lead the Cardinals staff.
“The reason for the DL is to keep it from lingering,” Shildt said. “We could’ve been really aggressive and he could’ve maybe tried to take the ball and that could’ve lead to something that would’ve been more lingering and time consuming…I definitely think this is something that we will put behind us once he takes his next start.”
Utility player Drew Robinson has been recalled from Memphis (AAA) and is available to play tonight. Pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon was also in the clubhouse, as he will be added to the roster on Tuesday to make what had been Wacha’s scheduled start.
“He’s done a nice job when he’s been here in a starting role and a relieving role,” Shildt said of the decision on Ponce de Leon. “His timing of being able to take the ball also synced up and he’s thrown the ball and been competitive and thrown the ball well down in Memphis.”
In three starts for the Redbirds, Ponce de Leon (2-0) has allowed 19 hits and six earned runs in 16.2 innings pitched. He struck out 13 hitters while walking four.
“Every start I felt like I was improving and improving and finally this last one I felt my best,” Ponce de Leon said. “The numbers didn’t quite show it, but the way I felt and the way I pitched, I felt really good. All four pitches are going to come into play.”
After appearing in 11 games (four starts) in 2018 with St. Louis, Ponce de Leon was moved to minor league camp this spring before the Grapefruit League was complete.
“The way I pitched, I didn’t deserve to be up here,” Ponce de Leon stated. “I got rocked left and right. Towards the end, I’d have three good innings and then I’d have one I couldn’t get out of. It’s the truth. The coaches, they gave me a good shot. I got many starts up there and I’m very grateful for that. Just the way it turned out is the way it should’ve been.”
In the middle of a bullpen session, yesterday’s news of his recall to St. Louis only added to the excitement Ponce de Leon. Using a Rapsodo, he made a successful adjustment on his curveball.
“I finally got to see the way it was spinning and it was a bit sideways,” Ponce de Leon shared. “I just kind of turned the grip a little bit more and it’s spinning straighter.”
That curveball may come in handy as he takes the mound against Milwaukee and reigning NL Player of the Week Christian Yelich.
“Just another hitter, he’s human,” Ponce de Leon said. “It doesn’t matter who I face. I’m going to have to face them if I want to pitch in the big leagues. Doesn’t matter who. I just have to do my thing out there.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports