ST. LOUIS– The Cardinals can chalk up one Opening Day victory without even taking the field in Cincinnati. Manager Mike Shildt confirmed Thursday that pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim, rehabbing in Jupiter from a back injury that opened up a spot in the St. Louis starting rotation, took to the mound in Florida Thursday and threw 51 pitches to 11 hitters, striking out nine. The next step will be to throw a side session, then an extended live session. Kim had been expected to miss the first few turns through the rotation.
Carlos Martinez, Daniel Ponce de Leon, John Gant are the team’s 3-5 starting pitchers in the rotation while Kim and Miles Mikolas are out.
Shildt also said that if the Cardinals have the lead in the late innings Thursday, you can expect Alex Reyes to get the first shot at being the ninth inning pitcher, if not the official “closer”, as Jordan Hicks is eased back into action following Tommy John surgery and being out last season due coronavirus concerns.
The opening day lineup makes official what had been suggested during spring training, that Paul Goldschmidt will hit second, backed up by the newly-acquired Nolan Arenado.
“If you look at their career numbers, that’s where they’ve performed best with a fairly large sample size,” Shildt said, adding that the move guarantees the potent pair will see the first inning at the plate, offering the chance to give opponents an early “punch in the face.”