LHP Zavada replaces Swindle in Memphis pen

The St. Louis Cardinals have swapped out one Triple-A left-handed reliever for another.

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed left-handed pitcher Clay Zavada and assigned him to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. In the corresponding transaction, the organization bid adieu to lefty bullpenner R.J. Swindle.

Zavada, 27, was released by the Cincinnati Reds on April 9. He had been optioned to minor league camp on March 25. The former Southern Illinois-Edwardswille pitcher had Tommy John surgery in May 2010 and was outrighted off the Snakes' 40-man roster that November. He joined Cincinnati on a minor league contract in January after becoming a minor league free agent last fall.

Last season coming off his elbow surgery, Zavada was dropped to Double-A Mobile, where he remained the rest of the year. There, he logged a 3.43 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 21 walks in 60 1/3 innings.

The Streator, Illinois native's only major league experience came with the 2009 Diamondbacks. That season, Zavada pitched in 49 games, all in relief. He logged a 3.35 ERA to go with 52 strikeouts and 24 walks in 51 innings.

Arizona's 30th round draft pick in 2006 has followed an unusual career path. Zavada was released by that organization in late 2007 and pitched briefly in the independent Frontier League with Southern Illinois in early 2008 before re-signing with Arizona that June.

Swindle, 28, was signed to a minor league contract by the Cardinals in December 2011. He is even more well-traveled than Zavada.

Taken by the Red Sox in the 14th round in 2004, Swindle then pitched in independent ball in each of the next three years after being released by the Sox and Yankees. The Vancouver-born hurler also pitched in the 2006 Beijing Olympics for Team Canada and in the Venezuelan Winter League. He then joined the Phillies system in 2007 and 2008. Swindle threw in Triple-A for the Brewers and Indians in 2009 and with Durham, the Tampa Bay Rays' Triple-A club, in each of the last two seasons.

Swindle appeared in a total of nine major league games, three with the 2008 Phillies and six with the Brewers the next season. He was hammered in both stints, with a career MLB ERA of 12.71 in 11 1/3 mound innings.

With Memphis in 2012, Swindle wasn't particularly effective against Pacific Coast League hitters. In 11 1/3 innings over 13 games, his ERA as 4.76. Swindle fanned 11, walked three and gave up three enemy home runs. The trend was not good as he yielded five runs over his final four outings wearing the Redbirds uniform.

Other left-handers in the Memphis pen include Nick Greenwood and Barret Browning plus the new arrival from Double-A, Sam Freeman. Starter Nick Additon also throws from the port side.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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