St. Louis Cardinals rookie reliever Eduardo Sanchez, who briefly nabbed the closer's role after a sensational debut before succumbing to shoulder stiffness, allowed one run in an inning and a third in his first rehab appearance with the AA Springfield Cardinals.
Pitching in relief of top prospect Shelby Miller Sanchez pitched a scoreless inning before hitting the first batter he faced in his second inning of work. A single and a wild pitch scored the run, and after a strikeout Sanchez was replaced by former starter David Kopp, who got out of the inning without any further trouble.
Sanchez, who struck out 33 batters in his first 28.2 innings in the Major Leagues after a brief, stellar career as the Cardinals' minor league closer of the future, is expected to make three rehab appearances in total before returning to the Cardinals' bullpen soon after the end of the All-Star Break. In his absence the Cardinals have relied increasingly on new closer Fernando Salas as well as fellow deposed closer Mitchell Boggs.
No team, least of all the bullpen-challenged St. Louis Cardinals, wants to hear about a shoulder injury and their top young pitchers in the same breath, but it appears that Eduardo Sanchez will spend at least 15 days on the so-named disabled list after what the club is calling a "mild shoulder strain" left the flamethrower with a sub-90s fastball in his last outing. Without Sanchez the club will have a hard time rationing innings for Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, and closer Fernando Salas, the remainder of the young group of pitchers who's helped the Cardinals recover from Ryan Franklin's disastrous fall from closer grace.
The Cardinals didn't immediately replace Sanchez in their bullpen; his roster spot went to returning slugger Matt Holliday, who homered in the Cardinals loss Thursday night. Unless they go outside the organization for help the nearest right-handed reliever in AAA Memphis is Jess Todd, who returned to the Cardinals on waivers this year after being traded with Chris Perez for Mark DeRosa in 2009.