Rosenthal faces hitters, near return from DL

Matheny impressed with reliever's velocity, swings elicited

Rosenthal faces hitters, near return from DL

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal (right shoulder inflammation) continues to push forward in his rehab, throwing to batters Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

He lost the closer's job at the end of June and pitched through discomfort, eventually landing on the disabled list July 26. His audience Saturday included manager Mike Matheny, general manager John Mozeliak and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. Rosenthal pitched at game speed with Brayan Pena, Tommy Pham and Alberto Rosario all taking turns in the batter's box.

Matheny thought Rosenthal touched triple digits with his fastball and could take what he showed into a game, if the situation required. The hitters put two ground balls in play.

"Their swings and their takes did all the talking," Matheny said. "There were some swings that they wanted to take but didn't get a chance to and the ball ended up where they didn't think it would be. It was just a good outing."

Rosenthal has thrown two bullpen sessions in the past week and wants to face hitters one more time before he feels comfortable returning -- perhaps in the coming week. He said he worked specifically on fastball command Saturday.

"It feels 100 percent different," Rosenthal said. "Before I was doing everything I could to kind of get through the pain that I think some other guys have probably experienced, trying to take anti-inflammatories and whatever you can just to feel like you can throw the baseball. Where I'm at now, I can just go out there and throw like normal, and there is no pain. So it's a big difference."

Seung Hwan Oh took over the ninth-inning role and has a 2.05 ERA over 22 innings and 20 appearances with 13 saves since Rosenthal went on the DL. Rosenthal insists he doesn't care which way the Cardinals use him when he returns.

"I'll sleep tonight, wake up tomorrow and see how I feel and play catch tomorrow and see how I feel after that," Rosenthal said. "I think just a couple adjustments, and if I feel confident I can make those adjustments pretty quickly, then I think I'll be really close."

Worth noting

Matt Holliday, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 12 with a right thumb fracture, took ground balls at first base Saturday. Matheny said Holliday doesn't have issues throwing or fielding but his hitting is a slower progression.

• Matheny said Michael Wacha is also progressing after throwing a bullpen session Friday with another scheduled for Monday.

Nick Krueger is a reporter for based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.