ST. LOUIS – The Cardinals released rehabbing reliever Kyle McClellan Tuesday, a move that didn’t come as a surprise to him.
“I had a pretty good idea,” McClellan told FOXSportsMidwest.com. “You just look at the situation. Anytime you come off an injury, it’s never good for you going forward, and you look at the exciting time the Cardinals have with a lot of young arms coming up through the system. It was one of those things where you look at it and say it’s definitely a possible.
“We had a pretty good idea this was going to happen at some point.”
McClellan had a 5.30 ERA in 16 games for the Cardinals in 2012 before landing on the disabled list with an elbow strain in May. He stopped a comeback bid in July due to increased pain in his arm before it was determined that a torn labrum in his right shoulder was causing the pain in his elbow. He underwent season-ending surgery to fix the problem.
With McClellan arbitration eligible and the Cardinals having an impressive list of younger, cheaper pitchers ready to pitch in the big leagues, the move to part ways was seen as a likely transaction for several weeks.
McClellan is currently undergoing a throwing program and expects to be 100 percent healthy by the start of spring training. He will rest his arm during the month of December before resuming his throwing on January 1.
His agent will begin reaching out to teams in the next few days.
“I feel like my body of work will speak for itself and I believe that I’ll have a lot of suitors,” McClellan said. “The injury is definitely a scary thing I’m sure for teams but I know in my mind I’ll be healthy in spring training and with the way my rehab is going, I have no reason to believe I wont get back to the form I was before and hopefully have another bunch of successful years in the major leagues.”
On trying to sign with a team will still rehabbing his injury, McClellan said, “We’re going to be open with them and show all the medical records and have them talk to doctors and therapists. I’m not concerned with my medical history. We have nothing to hide and will be forthcoming with it and let them know that in spring training I should be a normal pitcher. There shouldn’t be any restrictions. I’m confident of that and so are the doctors.”
McClellan said he will market himself to prospective teams as both a starter and reliever depending on what opportunities might exist.
The 28-year-old spent 11 years in the Cardinals organization since being drafted by his hometown team in the 25th round of the 2002. He reached the big leagues in 2008 after spending just half a season with Double-A Springfield.
McClellan evolved into one of the best setup relievers in the National League, posting a 2.27 ERA in 68 games in 2010. He then moved into the starting rotation in 2011 and won 12 games for the eventual World Series champions while shifting back to the bullpen midway through the year.
It’s always possible the Cardinals could look to give McClellan an offer to return should they make a trade or suffer an unforeseen injury in the new few months. McClellan’s not counting on it.
“I think they are ready to move on and go in a different direction,” McClellan said. “For me, it’s a time to reach out to the other teams and gauge the level of interest. It’s a time for me that is mixed emotions obviously. You hate to leave the team I grew up rooting for and spent 11 years with but on the other hand, it’s exciting to see what’s out there and see the level of interest from other clubs.
“I think it was a great five years. The people I’ve met, teammates I’ve had, successes and failures I’ve had as a pitcher, they’ve all been times I’ll never regret and always cherish. Being in an organization like this for 11 years with the ownership, the fans, teammates, clubhouse guys, I’m going to miss everybody. It’s something you hope you can find with a different organization. You hope you end up in a good scenario with good people around you like you have here.
“I’m always going to be a Cardinals fan. I grew up one and experienced it the last five years as a player and this is always going to be our home. I wish those guys nothing but the best and I can’t thank them enough for giving me an opportunity, for a guy who was just in Double-A and they gave me the opportunity to come up and make the team and have a successful career. I owe a lot to them and by no means is there hard feelings I don’t think on any side. It will be exciting to watch their young guys come up and see the success they have going forward.”
NOTES: The St. Louis Cardinals also announced today the they have signed veteran
catcher Rob Johnson to a minor league contract with Memphis and extended him a non-roster invite to the team’s 2013 Spring
Training camp. Johnson, 30, split time
between the New York Mets and the Mets Triple-A affiliate Buffalo in
2012. He has compiled a
.201 career batting mark with eight home runs and 62 RBI in 245 games.