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Opening Day at Busch Stadium

Alex Reyes pitches in relief for the Cardinals on April 5 at Busch Stadium. (Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com)

LOS ANGELES — Alex Reyes, the Cardinals’ longtime prospect who has had three seasons interrupted by injury, will return to St. Louis on Thursday to meet with team physicians about his latest setback.

Reyes threw a bullpen session Monday while with Class AAA Memphis, and his arm and right shoulder did not recover well from the outing, dimming any chance of him contributing before 2020.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt could sense Reyes’ concern in their ongoing text exchange and near-daily communication.

“That’s the frustration — just not being able to take steps forward,” Shildt said. “We’re all frustrated. I’m frustrated for him because he just hasn’t been able to get any traction.”

Reyes, who turns 25 at the end of this month, will have additional scans taken of his shoulder and the area around his right pectoral muscle. After starting the season on the opening day roster, Reyes went searching for his command at Class AAA and then had a series of injuries interrupt his season. He fractured his hand in a fit of frustration, and then he had his throwing program sidetracked by pectoral discomfort. Shidt said that “discomfort is turning into more pain.”

The Cardinals’ most-treasured pitching prospect since Carlos Martinez or even Rick Ankiel, Reyes has now spent most of his career on rehab and recovery. A brilliant debut in 2016 was halted by elbow surgery that cost him all of 2017. In 2018, he returned to the majors more than a year after Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings, and then his shoulder came undone. Reyes needed surgery to repair a significant tear in his right lat. That muscle flows into the area where he’s continued to have issues this season.

If Reyes’ focus shifts to 2020, it will be the fourth consecutive season that he has had rookie eligibility and he’ll be on the brink of arbitration eligibility. He was 1-4 in the minors this season with a 6.03 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings. He’s had 17 games and six starts in the majors since 2016 with a 2.21 ERA.

“I do have confidence in Alex’s mental capacity to deal with things,” Shildt said. “But I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s as frustrating emotionally as it is physically.”

ROTATION, ETC.

The Cardinals will skip the fifth spot in the rotation this weekend and stick with Miles Mikolas on normal rest Sunday against Pittsburgh. Dakota Hudson will start Friday with Adam Wainwright following Saturday. …

In his fourth game back from a bruised foot that put him on the injured list, Matt Carpenter took a pitch off the other foot late in Wednesday’s loss. He had difficulty walking to first base and had to be removed for a pinch-hitter. After exams at the ballpark he was moving better and ruled “day to day.”

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