Jaime Garcia started the game and the rest of the Peoria Chiefs pitchers followed his lead to combine for a no-hitter Thursday night. The St. Louis Cardinals lefty was making a rehab start with the Single A-affiliate and pitched five scoreless innings and struck out six while hitting one batter on 58 pitches (41 strikes).
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“A lot of it depends, quite frankly, on how he feels as he works through it ,” previewed Gary LaRocque, the Cardinals Director of Player Development, in an interview from Peoria before the game regarding Garcia’s pitch count.
“It’s just an overall look at making sure he feels good, good rhythm, and everything comes together for him in his work that he’s going to do here,” said LaRocque of what he was hoping to see of Garcia. “He’s looking forward to it and we are too.”
–Garcia’s performance follows a strong rehab start from Marco Gonzales–who allowed three hits and struck out four batters in a scoreless 3.2 innings pitched. It was his second rehab start for Springfield and followed two rehab outings for Palm Beach.
“We’ve been pleased in all his rehab work,” said LaRocque of Gonzales, who is recovering from a shoulder impingement.
In a recent media session, General Manager John Mozeliak had stated July 31st as the target date for Gonzales to be ready to pitch again for Memphis or at the big league level, which could allow for one more rehab start. “You evaluate when he comes out of each outing and that’s what we’re doing right now,” said LaRocque. “Then the Major League team decides how to approach the possibility in terms of his work and continuing. We just came out of last night’s game and those decisions will be made shortly.”
And the decision soon followed for Gonzales to be promoted to Memphis. He will be replaced in the Springfield Cardinals rotation by right-hander Alex Reyes–who was promoted from Palm Beach on Tuesday.
“He’s earned that,” said LaRocque. “He’s done a nice job in the Florida State League. Maturity wise, he’s really stepped up and focused very well in that league.”
The 2o years old Reyes had a 2.25 ERA and struck out 96 batters in 63.2 innings pitched at Palm Beach.
“He’s done a very good job of handling the level of the league–he’s pitched up to it and beyond it at times. It’s consistency. It’s time spent on the mound. He’s ready for this next challenge.”
That challenge will be in part adjusting to the Texas League–which is regarded as a hitter-friendly league.
“There’s no question about that,” agreed LaRocque. “That’s expected–that’s not something that we take lightly because we do recognize that players need to experience that. He’ll be facing lineups with more hitters in it, he’ll be in ballparks where the ball jumps pretty good at times. He’ll learn all those things and that’s what adjustments are all about–that’s why time in the minor leagues is so well spent. It allows him to come back up against the next hitter, the next pitch, the next game and be more prepared to handle it.”
photo credit: Springfield Cardinals; Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports