Fick replaces Salas in bumpy Cards bullpen

The St. Louis Cardinals replaced reliever Fernando Salas with Chuckie Fick on Saturday.

The St. Louis Cardinals are making a roster move to strengthen their beleaguered bullpen on Saturday, with Chuckie Fick being called up from Triple-A Memphis to make his major league debut.

Fick, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, was the Cardinals' 15th-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The 26-year-old Californian has been a dependable set up man for the Redbirds this season, his third in Memphis.

In 2012, Fick has posted a 3.86 ERA in 21 innings over 21 appearances, with 19 hits allowed, and a strikeout to walk ratio of just 10 to 7. He has two saves while Pacific Coast League opponents hit .241 against him, right-handers at .220 and lefties at .294. Fick can pitch multiple innings when needed, as he has made two two-inning appearances so far this season.

Unfortunately, Fick's most recent outing was his worst of the season as Tucson nicked him for four earned runs in just one inning of work on Tuesday. He was not particularly impressive in major league camp this spring, either. He tossed 2 2/3 innings in three Cardinals spring training games for a 6.75 ERA, while fanning three.

Fick had a very strong 2011 as he logged a 2.30 ERA in 54 appearances out of Memphis' bullpen. He led the Pacific Coast League in holds with 16 and lowest batting average against at .180.

Not overpowering, Fick can come from a 3/4 motion. He keeps the ball down in the zone, having collected over three ground ball outs to every fly out in 2011. Fick finished last season especially well, allowing just one earned run in his final 11 appearances (12 2/3 innings pitched).

Fick was selected to pitch for Team USA last fall and helped his team win the silver medal at the Pan-Am Games held in Mexico. He made five appearances and finished with a 2.08 ERA. Fick pitched 8 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs and earned the win over Cuba in the semi-final game.

The Cardinals organization added him to their 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Coming into 2012, Fick was The Cardinal Nation's 40th-ranked prospect.

With St. Louis, Fick will wear uniform #44, last donned by Erik Komatsu. He is the son of Cardinals professional scout Chuck Fick and the nephew of former MLB first baseman Robert Fick.

The corresponding move is the optioning of struggling reliever Fernando Salas to Memphis.

Salas' most recent outing was on Thursday, when the Phillies roughed him up for two earned runs on four hits. He took the loss as the Cardinals fell 10-9. Last Friday, the 26-year-old also took the loss in Los Angeles, when he walked three, including the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Over 18 appearances in 2012, Salas has a 6.32 ERA. The right-hander has no wins, three losses and two holds. He has not been given a save opportunity this season. Salas allowed 23 hits and walked 11 batters in 15 2/3 innings.

Last season, Salas logged a solid 2.28 ERA in 75 innings over 68 appearances with St. Louis after his promotion from Memphis in mid-April. His 24 saves (in 30 opportunities) led the 2011 club.

Now, he will have to work on rediscovering that magic in Triple-A, where he spent parts of each of the last three seasons working with Redbirds pitching coach Blaise Ilsley.

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