Clement Behind Schedule

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The Cardinals’ newest starting pitcher Matt Clement might not be ready for the start of the 2008 season. Clement’s shoulder surgery and subsequent rehab have kept him off a major league mound since June of ’06. Reports from camp in Jupiter say he’s behind schedule, and needs to build back his arm strength.  Pitching coach Dave Duncan is now altering Clement’s schedule, which will now include long toss sessions between bullpen throwing days.  It’s likely that Matt won’t start the season in the Cards’ rotation.

“In all honesty, I will be surprised if he’s ready for opening day,” Duncan said.  “And I’m not too sure even if he is ready, we wouldn’t likely have him compete somewhere else just to get him in the swing of things. He’s behind.  How far?  Don’t know yet.”

This could mean that the three pitchers competing for the last spot in the rotation, Todd Wellemeyer, Brad Thompson, and Anthony Reyes, will now be competing for two rotation spots.  A May return for Mark Mulder is still hopeful.  Barring any setbacks, Chris Carpenter should return sometime mid-season.

Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak remains content with the current pitching staff, and despite the news on Clement, has no plans of pursuing any of the remaining free-agent arms.

“If I felt this was something that was a major setback or some guaranteed uncertainty, then I think obviously we’d have to re-evaluate where we are,” said Mozeliak.

For more on this story, read Derrick Goold’s article in the Post Dispatch here, and Matthew Leach’s on MLB.com here.

There are plenty of reactions to the news throughout Cardinal cyberspace.  Check out my favorites from Cardinals Diaspora and Bernie’s Extra Points.