At one point this spring training, it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals may not have enough rotation depth to start the season. Miles Mikolas suffered a setback following shoulder surgery. Kwang Hyun Kim was dealing with back stiffness. All this happened while top free-agent pitcher Jake Odorizzi, a player of interest to the Cardinals, signed a multi-year deal with the Houston Astros.
But Kim has since returned from an injury the team deemed minor. He will throw a simulated game on Monday and get up and down twice, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Jeff Jones of the Belleville News. Following that, he will have a stadium appearance, meaning he will pitch in a game.
It sets Kim up to be ready for Opening Day, where he’ll appear toward the front of the Cardinals rotation behind ace Jack Flaherty. It’s a significant development for the Cardinals who still have uncertainty behind those two pitchers and Adam Wainwright, though Carlos Martinez is expected to win one spot while others, including Johan Oviedo, fight for the No. 5 spot.
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Kim most likely being ready for the regular season means the organization will not be forced to make a move they are uncomfortable with, whether that be in free agency, via trade or having someone already in the organization join the major-league roster.
But first, Kim must get through the spring training game unscathed and prove that he is 100 percent healthy. The Cardinals have wisely taken things slow with Kim and have avoided putting a timeline on his recovery, with this newest report the most encouraging sign yet that he is close, if not already, at 100 percent.
It’s not yet known when his game appearance will come, but with spring training almost over, if will likely come in the next few days.