Isringhausen set for stint in minor leagues

Monday, June 2, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen will be sent on a rehab assignment after throwing to hitters Sunday for the third time in a six-day span.

Manager Tony La Russa said Isringhausen probably will pitch Tuesday or Wednesday somewhere in the minor league system. The location has not yet been determined, but the Cardinals would prefer that the team be at home.

The Cardinals, who have blown 14 of 25 save opportunities without Isringhausen, won't commit to how long the rehab assignment will be. Isringhausen had 32 saves in 37 chances last year, helping the Cardinals win the NL Central.

"At this point, it depends on how he feels and how he responds, and also how sharp he is," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "It's too hard to predict.

"Hopefully it won't be long, but we really won't know until he starts pitching."

The team was impressed with Isringhausen's pregame throw. He concentrated more on off-speed pitching than trying to blow away hitters So Taguchi and Wilson Delgado.

"He looked good," Jocketty said. "His curveball was better and he threw a nice changeup he's been working on, and his velocity seemed good."

La Russa said it was important that Isringhausen, on the 15-day disabled list since March 21 following offseason shoulder surgery, be tested against hitters. Earlier in Isringhausen's comeback, he suggested the team might activate the closer without a rehab stint.

But on Sunday, he judged Isringhausen's outing for what it was worth.

"It's a workout against hitters on his own team and he's just trying to work on his delivery, work on his pitches," La Russa said. "It's not the same kind of intensity.

"I think when he gets out there against other people it'll be a better read."

Isringhausen has been slow to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. This is his third attempt at getting ready for the season after stiffness stopped him in two other efforts.

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