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WHEELER: Notes From Jupiter: Furcal Tommy John, Rosenthal To Bullpen

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Cardinals SS Rafael Furcal and GM John Mozeliak addressed the media down here in Jupiter about the status of Furcal’s injured elbow…

First off, Furcal will have Tommy John surgery and according to Mozeliak the shortstop is likely done for the season.

Furcal expressed his disappointment that things didn’t work out differently and said he’d love to come back and play for the Cardinals in 2014 if the possibility exists. He also talked about how difficult it is for him personally when he can’t do what he loves to do, which is play baseball.

He was asked about Pete Kozma and Ronny Cedeno stepping in for him and said he likes Kozma’s talent and really hopes he plays well and helps the Cardinals win.

As for Mozeliak, he reiterated that Tommy John surgery was not recommended by doctors last fall. The doctors believed that rest and rehab was the proper course of action. It didn’t work, obviously, and for now the team will proceed with Kozma and Cedeno at short with Ryan Jackson and Greg Garcia waiting in the wings.

You’ll hear from Mozeliak, Furcal and Mike Matheny tonight during Sports Open Line between 6:00-7:30. There is a lot to get to, including a brief update on the nature of talks with Adam Wainwright (talks are still open), so be sure to tune in. I’ll also have some audio clips from them during Total Information PM between 4-6 PM this afternoon.

Also of significant interest today, Trevor Rosenthal is headed for the bullpen. Whether or not it’s a long-term decision we’ll see but both Matheny and Mozeliak left open the possibility that Rosenthal could get a chance to start again down the road. Matheny spoke as if Rosenthal was going to be in the Major League bullpen and Mozeliak said he would be “shocked” if Rosenthal doesn’t make the team, so it looks like he’ll be a reliever in 2013. Keep in mind, however, that Mozeliak also said that if for some reason Rosenthal ended up in Memphis he would be stretched back out as a starter.

So, here’s what where things are:

* Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller are the top two candidates for the 5th spot in the rotation. According to Mozeliak, there are scenarios that would allow for one of them to be in the bullpen and the other in the rotation. I’ll get into the numbers on that in a moment but there is also a distinct possibility that one will start in the Majors and the other would be the “6th starter” and pitching every 5th day down at Memphis.

By the way, Kelly starts today against the Yankees. Miller starts tomorrow against the Nationals in Viera. Miller will be followed by Adam Wainwright, thus turning over what appears to be setting up as a 6-man rotation for the spring. With the extra time, using 6 starters would keep everyone in that mix on a “normal” schedule for Spring Training innings. Using 5 starters would put them in a position of making 7 spring starts rather than the customary 6.

* Michael Wacha is still going to be getting starter’s innings, albeit in relief, during Grapefruit League action. Mozeliak was asked if Wacha was in the mix for the open spot in the rotation and he said it was “unlikely” but that Wacha has “really opened some eyes” here in Jupiter. Mozeliak also pointed out that part of the decision will be based on what is best for Wacha’s development and that there is a physical aspect to being ready for the rigors of pitching in the Majors that may be a challenge for Wacha given that he’s never had a chance to build up to that kind of workload. Wacha is close, though. He’s got a lot of fans within the organization.

* With Rosenthal in the bullpen things get a little tighter there. Jason Motte, Mitchel Boggs, Edward Mujica, Randy Choate and Marc Rzepczynski would all seem to be locked in. Adding Rosenthal makes 6 relievers for what will likely be a 7-man bullpen. Fernando Salas has thrown the ball well and has had a lot of success for the team the last couple of years so it’s hard for me to see him going to the minors with either Kelly or Miller taking the bullpen spot. It would appear to make more sense to have the loser of the 5th starter battle in the rotation at Memphis. This move with Rosenthal would also seem to indicate that Eduardo Sanchez is set to open the season at Memphis, even though he’s looked pretty good here.

That’s all for now…and there will be a lot more to come on these developments this afternoon and this evening on Sports Open Line in the lead up to the Blues-Coyotes game at 8:00.

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