Rosenthal stretching out, possibly to start

Cards righty pitches two innings with expanded arsenal

Rosenthal stretching out, possibly to start

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though Trevor Rosenthal ended his scoreless appearance Monday with seven straight pitches registering at least 97 mph on the radar gun, it was the mix of pitches he showed ahead of that strong finish that justified the Cardinals' decision to handle Rosenthal a bit differently this spring.

As promised, the Cardinals offered Rosenthal an extended appearance. He pitched two innings and did so efficiently (34 pitches) while allowing one hit and no runs. Whether Rosenthal will be given the leash to cover three innings in his next outing hasn't been announced, but he looked ready for the challenge.

"I think he made it easy to take the next step, whatever that is, the way he threw today," said bench coach David Bell, who managed the team to a 5-4 win over Washington.

Rosenthal may surprise in 2017

The Cardinals are intrigued by the possibility of increasing Rosenthal's flexibility so that he could be used in a starting or relief role. For Rosenthal to thrive over multiple-inning appearances, however, he'll have to showcase an expanded repertoire. That started Monday.

Rosenthal threw several sliders, a pitch he has been developing this spring, along with a dose of changeups, to keep hitters from sitting on the fastball. Rosenthal notched his lone strikeout by getting Daniel Murphy to swing through a slider.

He expects to start featuring his curveball as spring progresses.

"Today was a good step in the right direction in terms of throwing strikes with secondary stuff," Rosenthal said. "I wouldn't say I'm exactly where I want to be, but I'm definitely -- with the mindset I have -- headed in the right direction."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for 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.