Rosenthal OK after being hit by comebacker

Rosenthal OK after being hit by comebacker

JUPITER, Fla. -- An inning that opened with Trevor Rosenthal hitting a batter and then a batter hitting him ended on a strong note as the Cardinals right-hander continues to prepare himself for another season as the team's closer.

In relief of starter Deck McGuire on Sunday, Rosenthal fought early command troubles. He hit Nationals outfielder Chris Heisey to open the third inning and later issued a walk to Reed Johnson. In between, Rosenthal took a line drive off his right calf, setting up a mess on the basepaths that would lead to two runs in Washington's 5-2 win.

Rosenthal convinced manager Mike Matheny, who made a mound visit after Rosenthal was struck, to let him continue pitching. After the game, Rosenthal had his lower right leg wrapped with gauze, but said his calf did not tighten up on him while he was on the mound.

"It'll probably be a little sore tomorrow," Rosenthal said. "That's definitely the hardest I've ever been hit."

After a sacrifice fly and another single further complicated the inning, Rosenthal closed it with a pair of swinging strikeouts.

"I thought he got better as he went," Matheny said. "His fastball had a little more life."

As is typical for pitchers prepping for the season, Rosenthal approached this outing differently than he did his first of Spring Training. On Sunday, he stuck mostly with his fastball and changeup. In his last appearance, Rosenthal mixed in more breaking pitches to work on the command of those.

"I feel good," Rosenthal said. "I continue to get out there and sync things up. Things keep getting better and clicking more."

Rosenthal, who set the franchise single-season saves record last season, will continue to get his work in the early-to-middle innings of games for now. Whereas Matheny deployed Rosenthal later in spring games each of the past two years, he doesn't see a need to hold his closer back now.

"It's definitely nice to get in early and face guys that are going to be in the Major Leagues and get a good feel for more experienced hitters," Rosenthal said. "Really, in the past few years, I haven't faced too many Major League hitters."

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.