JUPITER, Fla. (AP) For the St. Louis Cardinals, seeing Lance Lynn back on the mound facing major league hitters was a win, no matter the results.
Out of the big leagues last year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Lynn pitched two innings Monday as a Cardinals split squad beat the Washington Nationals 5-4.
”I threw the ball really well for it being February,” Lynn said.
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The 29-year-old righty allowed one run on four hits and a walk, mixing changeups and sliders among fastballs. He didn’t factor in the decision.
”He looked outstanding,” Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright said.
Lynn hadn’t pitched for St. Louis since the end of the 2015 season. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery shortly after that.
Prior to the injury, Lynn had been nearly metronomic in the Cardinals’ rotation.
Owner of a 3.37 career ERA, Lynn started at least 29 games each season from 2012 and 2015, twice exceeding the 200-inning mark. He recorded at least 180 strikeouts the first three of those seasons and was an All-Star in 2012.
”Even when he’s not at his best he’s going to give you everything he’s got,” Wainwright said. ”I don’t even know if there’s a better compliment.”
Lynn isn’t starting completely from scratch this spring, having thrown 6 2/3 innings over three minor league rehab appearances in August.
He called the recovery process ”long and boring,” but saw value in those three minor league outings.
”When you have a normal offseason you don’t have to rehab in the offseason – that’s always a good thing to have,” Lynn said.
Lynn’s recovery gained added importance earlier this month with the news that Alex Reyes, who expected to compete for a starting spot, would miss the season and needed Tommy John surgery.
That leaves Wainwright and Carlos Martinez at the top of the rotation, with Lynn, Michael Wacha and Mike Leake filling out the final three starting spots. Wacha, who has dealt with injury issues in previous seasons, made his Grapefruit League debut with the Cardinals squad that faced Boston on Monday, allowing an earned run on four hits in two innings.
A healthy Lynn, the Cardinals hope, brings stability to that rotation.
Entering the final year of his contract Lynn, never a fan of pitch counts, says the Cardinals haven’t placed any limitations on his workload.
”I’m guess that since I’m not under contract after this year, they are going to let me roll, but we’ll find out,” he said.
Nick Martini’s three-run double capped a four-run St. Louis eighth inning, providing the Cardinals margin of victory.