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Cardinals setup man Eduardo Sanchez nearing return

Sep 7, 2011, 9:36 PM EDT

eduardo sanchez getty pose Getty Images

It’s been a few months since we’ve checked in on Eduardo Sanchez, the hard-throwing St. Louis setup man who posted a 1.88 ERA and struck out 33 batters over his first 28 2/3 major league innings.

Sanchez has been sidelined since mid-June with an injured right shoulder, but he should be back in the Cards’ bullpen before the end of the regular season.

According to MLB.com’s Matthew Leach, Sanchez threw an “aggressive” bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. The right-hander treated the workout like a simulated game, taking a bit of rest between two different sets of pitches. He reported no issues with his shoulder, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa later expressed optimism that Sanchez is on the cusp of returning to action.

“I think he’s going to throw a little bit more [before pitching in a game],” La Russa said. “Maybe [he will be activated] next week, week after, the last week. Make sure he throws enough. It’s just whenever he’s ready. When he’s ready, he pitches.”

Depending on what the Cardinals do in free agency this winter, the ninth-inning role for 2012 could be up for grabs. Fernando Salas has done a fine job this season, but he’s recently displayed signs of fatigue. Jason Motte has been dominant, but there are worries about his limited arsenal. Sanchez should be in the mix.

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