Clement released, Duncan done, but Wainwright makes progress

Sunday, August 3, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals conceded the Matt Clement signing was a failed gamble on Saturday, releasing a right-hander who has struggled to return from shoulder surgery in 2006.

The Cardinals also announced that outfielder Chris Duncan would undergo surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his neck on Monday, a procedure that is likely to end a star-crossed season. A third injured player, right-hander Adam Wainwright, threw curveballs for the first time while rehabbing from a tendon injury on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

Clement, 33, was pitching for the team's Class A affiliate in Memphis, where he was 1-0 with a 4.61 ERA in 12 games. He did not make a start, totaling 13 2/3 innings, and had allowed three home runs. The move leaves the Cardinals with an open spot on their 40-man roster.

"We just felt like he wasn't making the progression that we thought he would, and ultimately it came down to taking innings away from some guys who we feel need it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "We tried to be as patient as we could during this process and I can tell you he worked extremely hard to get back, but in the end it just wasn't there."

The Cardinals signed Clement to a $1.5-million, one-year contract in January with a club option for next season. He's 87-86 with a 4.47 ERA in nine major league seasons and was an All-Star in 2005 with the Red Sox, and made at least 30 starts in seven straight seasons from 1999 through 2005 before encountering shoulder problems.

The Cardinals had envisioned him as part of a rebuilt rotation, but he never developed consistency in velocity or pitch movement. Mozeliak said Clement hit the mid- to upper-80s at times.

"It just was more or less kind of the overall picture we didn't think was going to help us get to where we wanted to be," Mozeliak said. "He was trending up at times but he never was able to sustain it."

Duncan is batting .248 with six homers and 27 RBIs after totaling 20 or more homers in each of his two seasons. He got off to a slow start related to a sports hernia that required surgery last September and was briefly optioned to the minors to help him relocate his stroke before hurting his neck and landing on the 15-day disabled list on July 22.

Duncan had two cortisone injections, but neither were effective. The injury pinches a nerve that causes numbness down his right arm and affects his hand strength.

"The second shot I got better for like a day, and then it went right back to the way it was," Duncan said. "I was optimistic for a little while."

Duncan said he's been told the rehab process is three to six weeks, "and then I've got to get back in shape."

Wainwright, the opening day starter sidelined since June 8, threw 80 pitches in his bullpen session with perhaps the final 10 at full intensity, and said he had good movement on his curve. He's scheduled to face hitters on Tuesday in a simulated game and could begin a short rehab after that.

Before throwing, he told trainers his hand felt "200 percent" better the last two days.

"I can't believe how good I felt," Wainwright said. "I know they're getting tired of me having to go in there, but it's starting to pay off."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: