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ST. LOUIS • When he pictures his major-league career, Alex Reyes is a starter.

And the Cardinals share that vision.

But there is a chance the Redbirds’ top pitching prospect spends his first season back from Tommy John surgery working out of the bullpen. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said here at Winter Warm-Up that, as of now, new bullpen addition Luke Gregerson would be considered the club’s closer (scroll down for more information on that). Mozeliak also acknowledged Reyes could be considered for that role.

Reyes just wants to pitch.

“Whatever they throw at me,” Reyes said.

The 23-year-old right-hander arrived at Winter Warm-Up in noticeably different shape. He’s dropped 10-15 pounds. The scale now reads around 230.

He’s stronger than ever before.

He says his mind is sharper, too.

“My arm feels good,” Reyes said. “My body is feeling great. I feel like I learned a lot throughout this year being able to watch, read hitters, read approaches. And being able to dissect video was something I was able to learn this year. Once I get the ball, we will see where it goes from there.”

Reyes plans to start throwing bullpens in Florida early next week. Live bullpen sessions will begin a week after that.

“He’s gotten very fit,” Mozeliak said of Reyes. “From a throwing standpoint, it’s still a little bit of a TBD, because we’re not rushing him. I think when you do actually get down in Jupiter and see how he’s progressing, it’s something we aren’t going to rush or push. As you’ve heard me say in the past, we’re sort of soft circling like a May 1 (in terms of when Reyes could pitch for the Cardinals). But we’re extremely encouraged where he’s at.”

In 2016 Reyes went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 5 starts and 12 games (46 innings.)

— Ben Frederickson

Gregerson is Cardinals closer for now

Saturday morning at Winter Warm-Up, Mozeliak said Luke Gregerson will be the Cardinals’ closer “going into the season. … He has experience doing it.” The former Houston Astro returns to the Cards organization with 66 career saves, including 31 for the 2015 Astros club that made the postseason.

The 33-year-old righthander had a 4.57 ERA last season, while giving up 13 homers in 61 innings. But in his eight previous seasons, the highest ERA he ever posted was 3.28. And for his career, Gregerson has a 9.1 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate.

“I do think, when you look at our bullpen, there are going to be opportunities for other people to take on more responsibilities or roles,” Mozeliak said. “There’s no doubt last year was a disappointment when you think of the blown saves and the close games we lost. But we also feel like this year we have a group of guys ready to take that next step up.”

Asked if the role of closer is changing, meaning the Cards could have multiple guys closing games during the year, Mozeliak said: “We’ve tried to build flexibility into our bullpen, first and foremost. I do think that the Memphis to St. Louis corridor might be more active than we’ve seen in the past. But having said that, I do think managers, in general, like to have someone they can count on in the ninth. … (We have) younger dynamic arms to take that role as well if we feel we can manage it properly, in terms of usage.”

A key dynamic arm, of course, is Alex Reyes, the stud young pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery. Mo said it’s possible that Reyes will return around May 1. Mozeliak also anticipates lefty Tyler Lyons having an imperative role in the bullpen. And two young power arms, Ryan Helsley and Jordan Hicks, could very well make contributions in 2018.

– Benjamin Hochman, Post-Dispatch

Cardinals attempt to warm up the fan base for 2018

ST. LOUIS • The line doesn’t appear as long snaking its away around the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, the parking wasn’t as packed, and the temps are exactly as advertised as annual Cardinals Winter Warm-up stirs to action Saturday morning in downtown St. Louis.

The slate of available autographs should help.

Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, and Kolten Wong headline the current players who will be in attendance for the first day of the annual three-day fanfest. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak will also be present to sign autographs — and likely field questions from the fans on the main stage. There are some questions the Cardinals still have to answer.

Although, Mozeliak has taken a public stance that the team is confident in the roster it currently has, there remain options in the free-agent market for the Cardinals to fortify the rotation and the bullpen, and the closer baseball gets to spring training the better the prices could be.

Mozeliak’s Q & A with fans will be one of the biggest draws of Day 1, as it usually is every Winter Warm-up.

Here are the players and officials set to sign Saturday: Jedd Gyorko, Ray King, Carson Kelly, John Tudor, Al Hrabosky, Alex Reyes, John Brebbia, Ted Savage, Dakota Hudson, Brian Jordan, John Mozeliak, Miles Mikolas, Matt Bowman, Luke Voit, Rowan Wick, Carlos Martinez, Austin Gomber, Ryan Sherriff, Sam Tuivailala, Kolten Wong. 

An events or presentations:

  • Brian Jordan book signing, 1 p.m.
  • “Goodwill through Baseball: Cardinals Across the Pacific,” a talk about the Cardinals’ journeys to Asia, with the team’s museum curator Paul Homan.
  • A review of the Cardinals’ 2017 minor-league system and performance, with farm director Gary LaRocque, at 1 p.m.
  • Two baseball writers on the main stage, yammering, 12:30ish.

The Post-Dispatch, meanwhile, has as many as a half dozen reporters and photographers running around bringing coverage to StlToday.com throughout the day and weekend of Winter Warm-up. This blog will house a rolling series of updates from the writers present, and we’ll also have snapshots and news coming throughout the weekend.

Derrick Goold

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