Reyes looks to be bullpen front-runner
Right-hander appears to be favorite for final relief position
JUPITER, Fla. -- Anthony Reyes will not open the season in the Cardinals' starting rotation, but it does now appear that the right-hander has an excellent chance of breaking camp as a long reliever for St. Louis.
Manager Tony La Russa insisted on Wednesday that no decision on the club's final bullpen job had been made. However, general manager John Mozeliak indicated that the scales are tipped in favor of Reyes, who was the odd man out in a three-way battle for starting spots with Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson. Reyes' competition for a bullpen job is Kelvin Jimenez.
"I think it makes sense to have more than just one guy in your bullpen be a multiple-inning pitcher," Mozeliak said. "That's where we're trying to make sure we have protection."
La Russa and especially pitching coach Dave Duncan have expressed a resistance to use Reyes as a relief pitcher. Duncan noted that Reyes has a rather involved pregame routine that might not translate well to the uneven assignments that often fall to a reliever. However, it appears in this case Duncan's initial preference may not dictate the direction the club goes.
Reyes' numbers this spring have been excellent, and in fact were better than Wellemeyer's. He has shown continually developing command and improving sharpness on his offspeed pitches. But Jimenez has also done an effective job.
"Jimenez has grown up a lot since last year," La Russa said. "That's why we've got a tough call. That's why I keep telling you the decision has not been made, and shouldn't be made. Because they both have done well."
For Reyes' part, he has no qualms about pitching out of the bullpen.
"It's not really that big a deal," he said. "I love starting, but I love being in the big leagues more."
Reyes said that the club has yet to notify him of his status. According to Mozeliak, even if the club is leaning one way, no move will be made immediately. The GM expects that both Reyes and Jimenez will make the trip to Springfield, Mo., where the Cardinals will play two exhibition games against their Double-A affiliate on Friday and Saturday.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.