photo: Carlos Martinez and assistant trainer Chris Conroy (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals had listed Carlos Martinez or Wade LeBlanc as the possible starting pitcher for Friday’s series opener in Chicago. The decision was dependent on whether Martinez’ injured hand would enable him to throw a Wednesday bullpen session.
That earlier cautious optimism went out the window when the veteran right-hander did not show improvement in his grip strength tests. A subsequent MRI on Wednesday in San Francisco revealed news that was “not positive,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt that afternoon.
Martinez has a torn ligament in his right thumb that was suffered while batting. The two-time National League All-Star has been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 5.
“It will impact him for some period of time,” his manager said. “I am not expecting him in the rotation any time soon.”
It is the 29-year-old’s second stint on the IL in 2021. Martinez was out from May 11 through May 20 with a right ankle injury caused by slipping on wet steps during a dugout celebration.
In 16 inconsistent starts in 2021, Martinez has a 6.23 ERA. He will be eligible for free agency this fall if the Cardinals do not pick up 2022 and 2023 options for his services.
Martinez joins fellow St. Louis starting pitchers Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson on the injured list. Kwang-Hyun Kim also missed time earlier this season, leaving 39-year-old Adam Wainwright as the only rotation constant in 2021. This is a key reason why the underachieving club has a record that is under .500 into the second half of the season.
In the corresponding roster move, the Cardinals recalled outfielder Lars Nootbaar. Though technically, the rookie was brought up from Triple-A Memphis, he has been traveling with St. Louis during the current road trip.
In his earlier debut, Nootbaar was with St. Louis from June 22 until July 1, when Harrison Bader was activated. With the Cardinals, the 23-year-old Nootbaar slashed 160/.214/.240/.454 in 28 plate appearances over nine contests.
This time around, Nootbaar will likely serve in a reserve role with St. Louis.
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
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