Reyes' Goal is Starter, But He Nor Cardinals Will Rule Out Bullpen Role

"I'd love to be a starter," Reyes says, but he'll do whatever the team asks of him.

January 22, 2019 - 8:32 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The course Alex Reyes is currently on would have him throwing regular bullpens in mid-February, pitching in live games at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium before March and very likely on the St. Louis Cardinals 25-man opening day roster. But he more than anyone knows nothing in baseball is guaranteed. 

He's pitched just 50 big-league innings since 2016 and gone through two Tommy John surgies since February 2017. The only reason he's remained St. Louis' No. 1 prospect is because he can't get in enough games to trade in the "prospect" label for "big leaguer." 

Although he hasn't been used a reliever since Sept. 2017, his power fastball continues look like a possible fit for closing. 

"I'd love to be a starter," Reyes says, but he'll do whatever the team asks of him. It's not just playing time he's missed, it's the atmosphere he longs for. 

Related: Mozeliak Calls 2019 a 'Huge Year' for Reyes

"Just being out there and being with the team," Reyes says. "Just being a part of the team everyday, those are the things I look forward to and am excited for." 

Last week, Reyes threw off the mound for the first time since his second surgery in June 2018. It's been just fastballs thus far, but when he starts dropping his curve, making hitters look silly with a sneaky changeup and implementing a new slider which he told our Chris Hrabe he learned during last year's rehab starts – it'll be tough for John Mozeliak not to think about him in the bullpen.  

And Reyes might not mind battling for a late-innings role that will have a bit less competition than the rotation.

Related: Yadier Molina Has Found More Energy for 2019 Cardinals Season & Beyond

"If you're in the bullpen you want to be the guy in the ninth inning with that ball, but again it's wherever the team needs me," Reyes says.

Mozeliak says he'd be most comfortable going into the 2019 season with a singular closer, not closer by committee. And Reyes will no doubt be considered, but the worry for Mozeliak will be only if St. Louis underutilizes its top prospect.

"For him to be healthy this year is paramount. When you ask what his role is going to be, I think the answer will come in time. I think the organization needs to be prudent on the best way to use him, but we also don't want to wake up at the end of the season and find out he had 50 innings."