Garcia to replace Kelly in Cardinals' rotation

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander Jaime Garcia will return to the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation Sunday, and the team will shift impressive rookie fill-in Joe Kelly to the bullpen.

"He's proved he can go deep in the game for us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday, a day after Garcia's fourth rehab start. "And he really feels good today, which is a great indicator."

Kelly was so impressive that the Cardinals considered bumping 13-game winner Lance Lynn to make room for Garcia. Lynn is an All-Star in his first year but has struggled recently. He allowed eight runs over 11 innings his last two starts.

Lynn has been particularly vulnerable early, giving up 21 earned runs in the first inning of his 23 starts. He's thrown 138 innings, third-highest on the staff, but has no physical issues and is on track to start Saturday against the Pirates.

"More than anything else, you have to look at the body of work," Matheny said. "Mentally he's excited to get past a little bit of a stumbling block to be the kind of starting pitcher he wants to be."

Catcher Yadier Molina was out of the lineup Wednesday night with mid-back tightness and thought he might be out two or three days. He figures to be ready for Garcia's first start since June 5.

Molina said he's had pain in his left side for the last two weeks and might have overcompensated with pain transferring to his back. He began experiencing tightness while warming up Kelly on Tuesday night and struggled through the game with his running visibly hampered.

"In the bullpen I was feeling that I couldn't move, but I didn't want to say anything," Molina said. "I just went out there and played. In the eighth inning, it was worse and worse. Hopefully I'll come back in two or three days."

Garcia was shut down for a month with a shoulder strain and was brought back slowly. He had eight strikeouts and walked three over five innings for Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday night.

"The report I was given, he was in the zone for the most part and seemed to have good life and the deception he always has," Matheny said.

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