Cardinals notebook: Carlson, Matz injuries prompt multiple roster moves, continue to test depth

Cardinals notebook: Carlson, Matz injuries prompt multiple roster moves, continue to test depth

What quickly has become a test of their depth has thus far also been a testament to how the Cardinals feel they’re better positioned to pass it.

After both received additional medical evaluations following Sunday’s game, outfielder Dylan Carlson and lefty Steven Matz went on the injured list Monday and each is expected to miss at least two weeks. A tear was discovered in Carlson’s left hamstring muscle that will sideline him for “every bit of 10, 14 days,” manager Oliver Marmol said. Matz was diagnosed with an impingement in his left shoulder and placed on the 15-day IL.

The starter said he expects to receive an injection to address the stiffness after resting for several days. He’ll also seek a second opinion from Dr. David Altchek, who has reviewed Matz’s previous shoulder ailments.

“Nothing too serious and something that we know is treatable,” Matz said. “A little blip. But we want to be sure it’s something we can get out of there pretty quickly.”

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The two injuries sparked a string of roster moves that included the returns of outfielder Lars Nootbaar, who hit three homers Sunday for Class AAA Memphis, and lefty Matthew Liberatore. Liberatore had just been optioned but could return without the minimum stay required because of Matz’s injury. Liberatore is likely to take Matz’s spot in the rotation and start Saturday with Adam Wainwright drawing Thursday’s series opener against Milwaukee.

The Cardinals also optioned pitcher Angel Rondon to Triple-A and promoted right-hander Junior Fernandez to assure they had a fresh, multiple-inning arm in the bullpen. More moves are likely in the days ahead as Jake Woodford and Kodi Whitley, for example, become eligible to return to the majors — and keep the fresh arms churning.

Because, as Marmol pointed out, they can with confidence this year.

“There was a little bit of a gap last year,” Marmol said. “We’re back to having some guys who can contribute. Feel good about it. It’s a challenge, but not in any way close to devastating.”

A year ago, a series of injuries to pitchers led to an innings crisis in June and arguably cost the Cardinals their bid for the division title. This season, the Cardinals did not use the injured list for the first time until May 3, but have placed three players on it in the past three days, including two of their everyday starting outfielders.

Promoted during Monday’s flurry of transactions, catcher Ivan Herrera will be the eighth Cardinal to make his major-league debut this season, tying Oakland for the most in the majors.

“I do feel like we have some depth that allows us not to skip a beat,” Marmol said. “There are several options (who) I feel like allow us to buy time, that we feel good about putting out there.”

Molina goes on bereavement list

Yadier Molina returned to his home in Puerto Rico to be present when his son undergoes arm surgery Tuesday morning, a team official said Monday after the veteran catcher went on the bereavement list. Molina’s son injured his arm while playing baseball, and Molina requested the jet home.

He’s expected to rejoin the roster Thursday.

Taking Molina’s place on the roster for the series in Toronto is a peek into the future at the position: Herrera. The 21-year-old top catching prospect is expected to be part of the Cardinals’ tandem plans with Andrew Knizner for 2023 and beyond. Herrera’s hit .310 with a .898 OPS in 20 games at Class AAA Memphis this year.

Surgery for Reyes; O’Neill update

All-Star closer Alex Reyes will have surgery to address persisting soreness related to the damaged labrum in his right shoulder, an official confirmed. The decision came Monday after Reyes met with Los Angeles-based Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The team expected the outcome of Monday’s review to be a surgery scheduled soon. A frayed labrum has kept Reyes on the injured list since spring, and the extent of the repair will determine if he misses the entire season.

A scan taken of outfielder Tyler O’Neill’s right shoulder confirmed the impingement that put him on the injured list. The left fielder will rest for several days and on Thursday begin a rehab process that will likely lead to a stint in the minors. Marmol said he’d like for O’Neill to get some at-bats in games before returning.

Rondon leaves impression

What rookie right-hander Rondon did in five innings Sunday will have a lasting benefit this week, even though those same five innings meant he would not stick around to see it. Rondon’s five shutout innings meant that he would not be available for several days, and because he has options the Cardinals flipped the roster for a fresher arm.

The clubhouse made clear to Rondon, a former pitcher of the year in the Cardinals’ organization, that he got the win Sunday — and the save to avoid a costly scramble for innings.

“That’s what allows you to continue to win ballgames,” Marmol said. “That set us up to do well over the next week – or it could have been a cluster.”

Rondon, 24, has a 3.97 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings at Memphis, and he elevated his spot on the depth chart by showing in Pittsburgh that his approach — “His ability to not beat himself; he’s going to throw strikes, not to overpower,” said Marmol — could get results.

Superlatives & souvenirs

Albert Pujols broke Stan Musial’s record for oldest Cardinal with two homers in a game. Musial hit two home runs on July 8, 1962, when he was 41 years, 229 days old. Pujols’ two-homer game Sunday came at age 42, 126 days. He is the 10th player in MLB history with a two-homer game after his 42nd birthday.

• A game-used baseball from the Cardinals’ win May 15 against San Francisco when Wainwright and Molina set the record for most wins by a battery, at 203, has been retrieved and certified so that it can be added to the permanent collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. That game also featured Pujols’ debut at pitcher.

• During Sunday’s 18-4 win in Pittsburgh, 10 Cardinals had at least a hit, a run, and an RBI for the first time in 131 seasons in the National League.

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