The St. Louis Cardinals activated RHP Michael Wacha from the 60-day disabled list to make Thursday night’s start in Milwaukee and have purchased the contract of first baseman Xavier Scruggs from Memphis (AAA). Outfielder Shane Robinson was moved from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list.
Wacha, 23, the Cardinals first round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, missed 68 games on the disabled list since June 18th with a right shoulder stress reaction. The 2013 National League Championship Series MVP has not seen Major League action since a start on June 17th vs. New York. He made a rehab start for Springfield (AA) on Sunday night and threw 2.0 scoreless innings. Wacha was 5-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts this season before the injury.
Robinson, 29, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury on August 26th following a stolen base attempt at Pittsburgh on August 25th, and will be moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Scruggs, 26, a 19th round selection out of UNLV in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, had a breakout season in Memphis, batting .286 with 21 home runs and 87 RBI over a career-high 135 games. He finished among the Pacific Coast League leaders in RBI (87, 5th), runs scored (82, 7th), games played (153, T6th), home runs (21, T13th) and extra base hits (53, 14th), while batting .328 with runners in scoring position. Scruggs hit .353 with 12 home runs over the last 50 games of the regular season, while batting .345 with 8 HR and 28 RBI in August. He earned PCL Player of the Week honors for the week of August 11-17 batting .458 (11-24) with 3 HR, 11 RBI and an on base+slugging percentage of 1.559. He posted two multi-homer games and two games with five or more RBI in the final month of the season.
Scruggs has hit 134 career home runs and 488 RBI over 771 games in the minor leagues and clubbed 20 or more home runs in each of his last five seasons.
Scruggs will wear uniform No. 59.
Update: The Cardinals announced late Thursday afternoon that Adams encountered soreness in his left oblique in Wednesday’s game. He is considered day-to-day and there is no need for 15-day disabled list use with expanded September rosters, anyway.
Brian Walton’s take: I am fine with the plans for Wacha, as long as he is pulled quickly if there any signs of trouble. With expanded rosters, plenty of long relief options are available, including Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons.
It is clear that Matt Adams’ extended slump has driven the Cardinals to take direct action with the promotion of Scruggs. Adams is one for his last 22 and is 4-for-41 since hitting his most recent home run on August 22.
Given where they are, I understand the move, but wish the Cards had been better prepared. More details at The Cardinal Nation Blog: Cardinals First Base Options Could be Expanded.
For those new to the site in the last 18-24 months, you may not know that Xavier Scruggs blogged for The Cardinal Nation during winter ball and the following 2012 season from Springfield. Here is the link to the menu page of articles if you are interested in getting to know him better.
Robinson has already undergone season-ending shoulder surgery so his move was expected as soon as a roster spot was needed.
One potential loser from this scenario is outfielder Tommy Pham. In my estimation, Scruggs took the 40-man roster spot that had seemed most likely earmarked for him. A move could still be made to promote Pham later, but clearing roster space would be more painful.
Further, right-handed hitting reserve outfielders Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos have come on as of late, making a need for Pham in St. Louis less obvious. The 26-year-old has logged a strong season for Memphis, but has slumped lately, hitting .184 over his last 10 games.
A clear loser is Triple-A Memphis, currently in the Pacific Coast League conference championships. The club has seen its two top home run hitters promoted in the last week in Grichuk (25) and Scruggs (21), but it is understood that the priority is always St. Louis.
Other roster moves, by Brian Walton
To replace Scruggs at Memphis, first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez was promoted from Double-A Springfield on Thursday. The 25-year-old batted .266 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI in 114 Texas League games. The right-handed hitter had a .298 average and scored 14 runs in August. Rodriguez will be making his Triple-A debut.
Earlier, the Redbirds filled out their roster with right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio, added from Springfield on Tuesday. After a rough start, the 24-year-old had a strong second half, with a 2.90 ERA to go with 57 strikeouts and 20 walks in 62 innings.
Check Out the Roster Matrix
The Cardinals now have 33 players on their expanded active roster. To see the Cardinals’ entire system by level and position, along with every transaction affecting the organization, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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