Michael Wacha took a big step in his recovery Monday, mixing fastballs and changeups in a 35-pitch bullpen session, and afterward manager Mike Matheny seemed very encouraged when talking to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
I was expecting less. We’re being aggressive, a little more intensity. It looked really close to what we normally would see when he’s out there. It just looked real effortless when the ball was coming out of his hand. He wasn’t trying to hump up and do anything extraordinary. It looked good.
Wacha is two months into his recovery from a stress reaction in his shoulder and Hummel reports that he’ll likely have at least a couple more bullpen sessions before potentially seeing any game action.
So far so good, though.
Wacha, who last started a game for the Cardinals on June 17, had a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings before the injury to basically duplicate his standout performance as a rookie last season.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.