HOUSTON -- Nine months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow that was expected to wipe away his 2016 season, Lance Lynn is ready to compete.
Lynn began a rehab assignment by starting for Class A Advanced Palm Beach on Monday, allowing one hit and striking out two over 1 2/3 scoreless innings vs. the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The rehab stint can extend up to 30 days, meaning that Lynn will be able to continue appearing in games through the end of the Minor League season.
Could he then come back and join the Cardinals in some capacity? General manager John Mozeliak hasn't ruled that out, but he will wait to see how the next few weeks go before making any sort of determination. If Lynn does return, it would likely be in a bullpen role.
Lynn, who has been rehabbing at the team's Jupiter, Fla., complex all season, met up with the big league team when it was in Miami in late July to show off his progress. At that time, Lynn indicated that he would use the possibility of a late-season return to keep pushing himself through his throwing program.
"If I feel like I can get people out," Lynn said, when asked if he could foresee a 2016 return. "We'll just see how I feel."
On average, pitchers typically need a 12- to 15-month recovery from Tommy John surgery. Lynn, who underwent the procedure on Nov. 10, 2015, would blow that timeframe away with a return this year.
While Lynn begins the next course in his rehab work, the Cardinals' plans for shortstop Aledmys Diaz and outfielder Matt Holliday remain on hold. Both players are recovering from fractured right thumbs.
After being hit by on the hand by a pitch on Thursday, Holliday returned to St. Louis, where he was examined by hand specialist Dr. Charles Goldfarb on Monday. Mozeliak said that Holliday, with input from the organization, will decide his next step by Tuesday. Surgery is believed to still be under consideration.
Diaz, whose thumb was broken on July 31, was reexamined on Monday, as well, and prescribed another two weeks of rest. He'll be re-evaluated after that period to determine if he can be cleared for baseball activities. That rules out the chance of an August return for the rookie shortstop.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.