Baseball / Sports

Cardinals send Justin Masterson to bullpen

The list of candidates to start Thursday's Cardinals game at Milwaukee diminished by one Monday when manager Mike Matheny said struggling right-hander Justin Masterson will be doing his next pitching out of the bullpen.

"We've got him in that mindset already," Matheny said. "When he'll be actually available to go is still up in the air."

Masterson was in the group of relievers loosening up in the outfield before Monday's game.

That leaves young left-handers Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons, one impressive as a spot starter Saturday night and the other dazzling in relief of Masterson earlier Saturday, as the likely candidates to start the first game of an important four-game set in Milwaukee.

Right-hander Michael Wacha, impressive in a 34-pitch rehab outing for Class AA Springfield on Sunday, probably would not be available to pitch Thursday. Whether he would pitch for Class AAA Memphis in the playoffs on Friday is uncertain.

"We haven't even talked about the logistics of how this plays out," Matheny said. "We're just happy to see what happened'' Sunday.

Masterson, 2-3 with a 7.90 ERA after arriving from Cleveland, gave up five or more runs in four of his six starts for the Cardinals and four or more in five of them. He had been on the Cleveland disabled list because of a knee ailment.

Then after laboring through most of his earlier starts, he tried pitching just out of the stretch on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. He was unable to make it through five innings, kind of forcing Matheny's hand when Gonzales and Lyons did so well.

Masterson "gets it. He's a pro," Matheny said. "He understands the game, understands where we are and understands where he is. But we're committed to keep working through this. Maybe this could be something that works for him."

Matheny said the response by Masterson, 29, to the decision, was "'whatever you need me to do.'"

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