Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal hasn't closed the door on starting

JUPITER, Fla. -- Trevor Rosenthal blossomed into one of the best relievers in baseball last season, limiting his walks and nailing down 48 saves in his second season as the St. Louis Cardinals’ closer.

The strong season earned Rosenthal a massive raise in arbitration. He’ll make more than 10 times his $535,000 salary from a year ago.

And yet Rosenthal, 25, said he hasn’t closed the door, mentally, on being a starting pitcher one day. The possibility has lingered around Rosenthal because, unlike many relievers who rely on two pitches or even one pitch, he can throw three off-speed pitches to complement a fastball that brushes 100 mph.

“Rick Ankiel ended up being an outfielder. You never know what can happen,” Rosenthal said. “It’s not a closed door, but it’s not something I really think about. I just show up and work hard and, if they see me throw once and are like, ‘Oh, maybe we need him to fill in at a different spot,’ I’ll do it. But it seems to be working where I’m at.”

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright began his career as a reliever, but did it for only one full season. Rosenthal last started a game in 2012 in the minor leagues. He reached Triple-A Memphis as a starter before converting to full-time relief.

Rosenthal faced hitters for the first time on Wednesday, throwing 25 pitches. He said these early sessions are about getting a feel for the strike zone again. He said he took a little extra time off this winter to let his body recover from the rigors of appearing in roughly 70 games per season.

Rosenthal cut down his walks from 42 in 2014 to 25 last season and maintained a strikeout-per-nine inning rate of nearly 11. Rosenthal threw four pitches last season. In addition to his fastball, he has a cutter, changeup and curveball, though he typically uses only two in any one appearance.