LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Joe Kelly took his latest step forward in his return from a left hamstring injury Friday when he began a Minor League rehab assignment with a two-inning start for Triple-A Memphis.
Kelly threw 41 pitches (21 strikes) in his first game appearance since April 16, when he injured himself trying to beat out a bunt. Facing the Round Rock (Texas) club on Friday, Kelly allowed two hits (including a home run), two runs, three walks and struck out one. He also committed a balk.
"[I] had some pretty good stuff, made some pretty good pitches. Every other pitch, I felt like," Kelly told a reporter from the Memphis Commercial Appeal after his outing. "It was just hard to command the fastball now, but I was trying to be more cautious about the leg and not just letting my body do the work. But no tugging, no pulling. It's just something you have to get over mentally also. Coming back from injury, you just can't worry about it and you have to pitch. But yeah, mechanics were a little slower and I was trying to be more cautious in getting out of it."
Once the Cardinals feel Kelly is ready to come off the disabled list, there is a rotation spot awaiting him. General manager John Mozeliak, in discussing the state of the rotation earlier this week, said he expected Kelly would make at least two Minor League starts before rejoining the big league team.
Asked afterward about his stamina, Kelly said he would "grade it about a 'C'. I could pass for those two innings. Wasn't where I wanted it to be."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.