The San Diego Padres will welcome third baseman Manny Machado back into the middle of their batting order Monday in St. Louis when they open a three-game series against the Cardinals.
“Manny will be in the lineup tomorrow,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said after his team defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 in 10 innings Sunday.
Machado missed the previous two games with what the team described as “tennis elbow” in his right arm.
“Obviously he’s lobbying to play, because he can play through just about anything,” Melvin said. “But this is something we need to calm down … it’s too early in the season. He’s too important to us to have something linger for too long. You’re potentially looking at a longer stint if it gets worse. So we need to cut it off right now.”
Machado has posted a .357/.438/.583 slash line while driving the Padres offense in the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr., who is recovering from wrist surgery.
The injury-depleted St. Louis pitching staff is under duress heading into this series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are in the midst of playing 12 games in 11 days.
During their four-game split against the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, only one of their starting pitchers lasted more than five innings. After this three-game set with the Padres at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals will head to Chicago for a five-game series against the Cubs that will include a doubleheader Saturday.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol hopes his starting pitchers can start lightening the load on the bullpen.
“We’ve talked about it quite a bit, just that they go deeper in games,” Marmol said after his team’s 8-0 loss Sunday. “You have a doubleheader coming up eight games in seven days, we’re going to need more length. It’s pretty clear.”
But the Cardinals will have to approach Monday’s game as a bullpen start with left-hander Packy Naughton (0-1, 2.89 ERA) arriving from Triple-A Memphis to fill the role of opener.
Recent injuries to starting pitchers Jordan Hicks (forearm strain) and Steven Matz (shoulder impingement) forced Marmol to turn this start into a group effort.
Naughton has made five relief appearances and one start this season for the Cardinals. He is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven relief appearances for Memphis.
“He’s a gamer, he understands his strengths and weaknesses and for the most part, he’s on the attack, which I like,” Marmol said. “He’s confident in what he’s able to do and he gives you every bit of it. The times he’s been up here, we’ve enjoyed seeing him.”
The Padres head to St. Louis on the heels of a 3-3 homestand. They will pitch Nick Martinez (2-2, 3.86 ERA). In his last start Martinez allowed two runs on five hits and three walks over five innings in a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Martinez, who spent the previous four seasons pitching for teams in Japan, has made one career start against the Cardinals. He allowed three runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings in that game.
–Field Level Media