ST. LOUIS -- Their lockers side-by-side in the Cardinals' clubhouse, Marc Rzepczynski took a seat in front of his as Joe Kelly sat next to him talking about his impending transition from starter to reliever. When the conversation paused, Rzepczynski interrupted.
"Don't let him fool you," the lefty reliever said, "into thinking he can't do it."
Few would know better than Rzepczynski, who has seen Kelly pitch in relief before. The two were teammates for one year at the University of California-Riverside, with Kelly starring as the team's freshman closer while Rzepczynski anchored the rotation.
Rzepczynski has since been converted into a reliever. And, at least for the remainder of this season, Kelly is set to join him in the 'pen. After making 12 starts for St. Louis, Kelly learned on Wednesday that his assignment would be changing upon the weekend return of Jaime Garcia.
"It's way more preferable, obviously, than going to the Minors," Kelly said on Thursday. "I'd rather get meaningful innings up here and help the team toward a playoff push than go down there and be down in less than a month. I'm glad I'm staying here, and I know I can help the team out."
He won't be available out of the 'pen until Saturday, at the earliest, but Kelly's routine is already changing. He did not throw a side session on Thursday, which would have been his day to do so had he still been in the rotation.
Some have suggested that Kelly might come out throwing harder in relief than he did as a starter since the appearances will be briefer. Asked about the possibility, Kelly said that while his fastball might have some added zip, it won't be intentional.
"I'm going to go out there and just pitch," Kelly said. "I'll just think of it as starting, so I don't overthrow or fall behind hitters. You get more adrenaline coming out of the bullpen for one inning, even if you try not to. But I don't want to go out there and expect to throw 100 [mph]. I just want to stick with throwing strikes. There will be velocity there, but I'm not going to go out there and focus on that."