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Cardinals spring training

Pitching coach Mike Maddux talks with Alex Reyes in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

The idea of having prized rookie Alex Reyes head to Class AAA Memphis and build up his workload to become a starter for the Cardinals is "not even close to on our radar," manager Mike Shildt said Sunday morning.

The Cardinals optioned Reyes and infielder Yairo Munoz to their highest minor-league affiliate on Sunday in a move to refresh and augment the bullpen.

For Munoz, his assignment will be short.

For Reyes, his assignments will be short.

The Cardinals are allowed to bring a 26th player to next weekend's series in Mexico, and that player, Shildt said, has to be a position player. The Cardinals' plan right now is for Munoz to rejoin the team Thursday and travel with them to Monterrey, Mexico that evening for the two-game series against the Reds. The mandatory 10-day stay in the minors does not apply to that promotion, though he will have to return to Memphis afterward to complete the minimum 10 days, unless there is an injury.

Reyes' return to Memphis will give him a "very structure" and scheduled opportunity to work on his pitches, Shildt said.

"We need to get him touches," Shildt said.

The manager and the prospect had a candid conversation Saturday morning, during which Shildt shared with Reyes the view of his outings, the things he needed to work on, and how the coaches and front office thought he could best do that. Reyes had a chance to give his feedback on the plan and what he saw in his recent results.

Reyes struggled in a save opportunity Wednesday at Pittsburgh, and the home-opener Friday flipped on him. In each case it was a walk or two that cost him.

His command for pitches has not been as sharp a desired.

Reyes said he was having difficulty getting his control "up to game speed."

At Memphis, Reyes will be used in scheduled two-inning outings, and he may start some games to assure he'll get an appearance that day. The Cardinals have far more control over when and how much a pitcher will be used at the minor-league level than in the majors, where the games and score will dictate use. The idea is to get Reyes comfortable in those 30-, 40-pitch outings so that he can return to the majors as a late-inning and multi-inning reliever.

"I think we all have a little amnesia from he did in 2016," Shildt said, reference Reyes' major-league debut as a reliever and the force he proved to be in that role.

Shildt revisited those outings and reviewed several of his recent outings to show Reyes how close he was -- and what he could when he was right.

There is no timetable for Reyes' return to the majors.

The Cardinals will move Dakota Hudson from the bullpen back to the rotation so that he can start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rotation for the four-game series against LA will be Miles Mikolas on Monday, Hudson on Tuesday, Jack Flaherty on Wednesday, and Michael Wacha for the series finale on Thursday.

That sets up Adam Wainwright to start Saturday in Mexico.

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