Walden not likely to pitch again in 2015

Reliever trying to avoid surgery with rehab program

Walden not likely to pitch again in 2015

ST. LOUIS -- A rotator cuff and right biceps injury that has sidelined reliever Jordan Walden since April will likely preclude him from returning to the field this season, the Cardinals have acknowledged.

A late-season return had been growing more and more unlikely the longer Walden's rehab program stalled. The Cardinals had initially anticipated a return by the right-hander shortly after the All-Star break. Walden made four rehab appearances, the last on July 31, before shutting down due to continued shoulder weakness.

Walden had done only light throwing since and never returned to the mound. He still wants to avoid undergoing surgery, which doctors have said would not guarantee a full recovery. However, neither does rehab.

"It's not an easy decision," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said of the next course of action. "If his decision is to not have surgery, then he's going to have to have a very rigorous offseason with therapy. It's going to be a tough go. If he succeeds with that, then next year he has a possibility [of pitching]. Right now, it's not looking good."

The Cardinals acquired Walden as part of the November 2014 trade with Atlanta that also brought in Jason Heyward. The Cardinals projected Walden as a setup reliever, which he was for 12 appearances. Walden is under contract for another year after signing a two-year, $6.35 million contract in January to avoid arbitration. The Cardinals also have a $5.25 million option -- with a $250,000 buyout attached -- for 2017.

"We keep positive of the hopeful anticipation that they can make it work out, but also realistic that sometimes you just can't get it right and have to take time," manager Mike Matheny said. "He seems to be in a pretty tough spot right here, whether it's to do surgery or the kind of rehab he needs to do. It's never easy."

Worth noting

• Second baseman Kolten Wong was, as Matheny described it, a "healthy scratch" about 90 minutes before Monday's first pitch after reporting to the stadium with calf tightness. Wong was expected to be available off the bench. The late lineup change bumped Matt Carpenter to second base. It was Carpenter's fifth start at second this season.

Randal Grichuk began a light throwing program on Monday and is expected to resume taking batting practice on Tuesday. Grichuk hasn't played since Aug. 16 because of right elbow discomfort.

Matt Belisle (right elbow inflammation) recovered well from his live batting practice session on Sunday. The Cardinals have not announced what Belisle's next rehab step would be, though he could soon be cleared to come off the 15-day disabled list.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.