Lohse impresses Cards in debut

Lohse impresses Cards in debut

JUPITER, Fla. -- Kyle Lohse was better than the Cardinals expected in his Grapefruit League debut. However, he's far enough away from being game-ready that the club will wait until its sixth game to give Lohse the ball in a game that counts.

Lohse will make his Cardinals regular-season debut April 6, according to pitching coach Dave Duncan. After his first St. Louis Spring Training start on Saturday, Lohse will pitch again Thursday against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, then in a simulated-game environment on the Cards' April 1 off-day.

"We'll try to create as competitive a situation for him as we can on that day, so it's not like he's only got one more," Duncan said. "He'll have one-plus. We felt it would benefit him to have another workday before getting into regular-season competition."

The decision makes the remainder of St. Louis' opening-week rotation clear. Adam Wainwright will pitch Opening Day, March 31, against Colorado. Following him April 2 and 3 against the Rockies will be Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson, respectively. Braden Looper will pitch April 4 against Washington, Wainwright will make his second start on April 5 against the Nationals, and Lohse will slot in on April 6. Anthony Reyes will not be in the rotation at the start of the season.

As for Lohse, he acquitted himself very well in his first game as a Cardinal. He lasted five innings, allowing two runs on six hits, with three strikeouts and one walk. He utilized his entire repertoire, including a curveball that Duncan wants him to use more often.

Catcher Yadier Molina "feels like it's a good pitch for me, and Dunc feels like it's a good pitch," Lohse said. "We dropped quite a few in there, and they were good. It's just a matter of becoming more confident in it, and throwing it -- not guiding it in there. I think we've got a pretty good idea of what we're trying to do out there."

Duncan believes that Lohse can use the curve for a first-pitch strike, as well as throwing the pitch out of the zone in hopes hitters will chase it for a third strike.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.