Pineiro setback another hit to Cardinals' thin rotation Print
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Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:09
MLB Headline News

 JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -The St. Louis Cardinals' wafer-thin rotation might be another member shy on opening day after Joel Pineiro was sidelined a few more days Tuesday due to shoulder discomfort.
The only givens for the start of the season are Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper. Matt Clement just began throwing batting practice a few days ago, pitching coach Dave Duncan doesn't expect Pineiro to be ready from the beginning, and a rosy scenario for Mark Mulder would be May.
``I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned,'' Duncan said Tuesday. ``But am I panicking? No.
``I know when the season starts there will be five guys in our rotation, and we'll feel like they are five guys that give us a chance to win.''
Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson are likely to fill two openings, with Anthony Reyes the front-runner for the fifth spot at the start of the year. Pitching prospects Mike Parisi and Kyle McClellan are also in the mix.
Parisi threw four 15-pitch innings and Thompson threw three 20-pitch innings in an intrasquad game Tuesday morning before the Cardinals played the Orioles.
``The situation is what it is,'' Duncan said. ``It probably means that more likely than not, decisions will be made later in the spring than you would like to make them.''
If the Cardinals seek help in a trade, Duncan said it would be for a pitcher with more potential upside than former Cardinals Sidney Ponson or Jeff Weaver. Ponson threw for scouts last week in Jupiter. Weaver, who won the World Series clincher in 2006 for St. Louis, remains a free agent.
The Cardinals are encouraged after an MRI exam Monday on Pineiro revealed no structural damage. During the hour-long test, Pineiro worried that he was seriously injured.
``I'm relaxed, and I can get some sleep knowing the rotator cuff and labrum are fine,'' Pineiro said. ``It went through my mind, obviously.''
Pineiro got a two-year, $13 million contract after going 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts for St. Louis last season. He was acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Red Sox. He's made only one spring start, throwing three innings, and Duncan isn't counting on him for opening day.
``In my opinion, he's not there,'' Duncan said. ``I'm assuming he will not be there until he starts throwing again and shows me he can be ready.''
Anthony Reyes will take Pineiro's scheduled start Wednesday, and Pineiro is to resume throwing Friday.
Duncan said Thompson, who emphasizes a sinker, threw in the intrasquad game to work on his breaking ball and changeup in a less-pressurized atmosphere. Thompson was 8-6 with a 4.73 ERA as a swing man last year, including 17 starts.
``For me he's a known quantity,'' Duncan said. ``Somebody's really got to step up and take it away from him.''
Duncan said virtually the same thing about Wellemeyer, 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 20 games with 11 starts last year, saying it would be ``difficult'' to dislodge him from the picture.
It didn't appear Thompson was aware of that status, but he didn't seem bothered pitching against teammates in the morning while Wellemeyer started the exhibition game.
``You can't let it bug you,'' Thompson said. ``It's one of those things. Eyes are watching every time I'm out there.''
Clement has thrown batting practice twice and the plan calls for a more intensive session the next time, with more pitches and more competitive at-bats. Duncan would be pleasantly surprised if he's ready at the start of the season.
``I would never say there's no way, but I would say it's unlikely,'' Duncan said. ``I just don't think he's going to have the opportunity to do all the things he needs to do to be ready.''
Duncan said Mulder has been getting impressive reviews with no timetable. The same goes for Chris Carpenter, who threw off the mound for the first time Monday but is not expected back from elbow surgery until midseason.
``It was fun to get back out there,'' Carpenter said. ``I'm not firing it, but I'm letting it come out a little bit.''
 

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