Alex Reyes was back in the Cardinals clubhouse on Tuesday after last week's surgery and revealed his daughter is battling cancer. (USA Today Sports) 

By Rob Rains

Alex Reyes returned to the Cardinals clubhouse on Tuesday, his right arm back in another sling following his second season-ending surgery in 17 months.

As Reyes spoke to the media, he calmed revealed for the first time his situation is not the only medical challenge his young family is battling. Reyes said his daughter, Aleyka, was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 when she was only five months old.

“I’m fighting for my career and I love to play baseball, but life is way more important,” Reyes said. “That was definitely a lot tougher situation in my life. To know how strong she is now, and how strong she was through that process, those are things that drive me.

“I go home and carry her and she really motivates me to come back here and work hard and get stuff done.”

Aleyka will turn 2 in July.

“She’s doing a lot better, the tumors are a lot smaller and hopefully she won’t need any more chemo treatments,” Reyes said. “She has another appointment in about two months.”

Reyes said his daughter’s tumor was near her heart.

“I don’t really want to get much into the details with that,” he said. “I don’t really feel the need to talk about it. It’s out there, I said it, I just don’t want to continually talk about it.”

Reyes was going through his recovery from Tommy John surgery last year at the same time his daughter was undergoing the cancer treatments.

“It was tough,” he said. “Those are things I’ve learned to deal with. I’ve been handed a tough deck of cards. It’s been all right though. I’m sure I’ll survive.”

Reyes had his second operation last Wednesday in Philadelphia for a torn tendon behind his right shoulder. After his long recovery from the elbow surgery in February of 2017, Reyes pitched just four innings against the Brewers on May 30 – his first game in the majors since September of 2016 – before suffering the new injury which will sideline him until next spring training.

Reyes, 23, spent a few days at his home in New Jersey following the surgery before returning to St. Louis on Monday.

“Get away from the field a little bit and remember there are some things that are more important in life than this,” he said. “My daughter battled with her cancer and her tumors so if my daughter fought for her life I can fight for my career.

“That’s pretty much what’s been in my head and remembering that I’ve still got time. There’s work to do it and I’m ready for it. Whatever my career puts in front of me I’m going to attack it and I’m going to try to give it 100 percent. Hopefully I will be back here next year.”

Reyes is still considered one of the best prospects in baseball. He was 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in his first 12 games for the Cardinals in 2016. In four rehab starts in the minor leagues in May of this year, he did not allow a run in 23 innings and recorded 44 strikeouts.

He said he thought he was just suffering soreness and fatigue following his last game in Memphis and then after his start in Milwaukee and did not believe he had suffered another serious injury. Even when he underwent an MRI he expected it to show he was just suffering from inflammation.

“Missing another season sucks, there’s no other way to put it,” he said. “I said it when I went down with Tommy John surgery and this is probably harder. … I wouldn’t wish this on anyone’s career.”

“Back to back years is hard but it’s something I’ve got to deal with. … I just know I’ve got to work my ass off again.”

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains