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Cardinals hoping to have Brad Penny back in the rotation by mid-June

Jun 1, 2010, 12:44 PM EDT

Kyle Lohse was back in the Cardinals’ clubhouse yesterday following forearm surgery that’s expected to sideline him for at least two months, but general manager John Mozeliak said the team is unlikely to pursue a veteran replacement for the rotation in part because they expect Brad Penny to return soon.
Penny is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his upper back and has yet to resume throwing, but Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he could rejoin the rotation as soon as the middle of this month.
Penny looked like another scrap-heap success story for pitching coach Dave Duncan when he started 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA, but he then lost four straight games while falling back into his old fastball-reliant habits and was placed on the DL following back-to-back ugly outings. However, in nine total starts he’s 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA and 35/9 K/BB ratio in 55.2 innings.
While the Cardinals hope Lohse can pitch again this season and wait for Penny to return, Triple-A call-ups P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino have been forced into action as the fourth and fifth starters behind Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Jaime Garcia. As a group St. Louis’ rotation leads the NL with a 2.97 ERA, and San Diego (3.12) and San Francisco (3.26) are the only other teams below 3.60.

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