Redbirds Roster Roulette

A Memphis DL stop has ripple effects all the way to Jupiter, Florida as four associated minor league player moves were made by the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday

An injury in Memphis, Tennessee drove four roulette-like moves in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system on Monday.

Nelson to Memphis' DL

Memphis Redbirds infielder John Nelson has been bothered by a sore back and the decision was made on Monday to place him on the disabled list for the Pacific Coast League club. Nelson, the Cards' eighth-round pick in the 2001 draft, had appeared in just two of the Redbirds' 11 games this season, the most recent being back on April 9.

The recent disappointments for Nelson continue with his latest injury. Previously considered a promising prospect, the 28-year-old struggled in 2006. He hit 21 home runs in 125 games for Memphis, but batted just .215. Still, he was selected for a September call up to St. Louis, but was removed from the 40-man roster following the season. Nelson's former starting shortstop role in Memphis has been filled by Brendan Ryan this season.

Washington from Springfield to Memphis

Rico Washington was restored to the Memphis roster to fill Nelson's opening, as he was promoted from the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. Actually, Washington seemed to be slated for Memphis for the start of the 2007 season, but the organization instead made a last-minute decision to return the 28-year old to Springfield, where he manned third base and hit .179 in 28 at-bats.

Washington first reached Triple-A in 2003 with the San Diego Padres organization and has bounced back and forth between there and Double-A since. He has yet to reach 20 home runs in any of his professional seasons, but in 2006, he did hit 18 between Springfield and Memphis, where he ended the season. His 76 RBIs last year represent a personal career best.

Ferris from Palm Beach to Springfield

The next move required was to replace Washington in Springfield. With versatile Randy Roth having decided to retire two weeks ago, pickings were a bit slim. First baseman Mike Ferris was the one who received the call up from the Palm Beach Cardinals of the High-A Florida State League. This season, Ferris was hitting just .226 with one home run and nine RBIs before his promotion, but led the organization with five Spring Training roundtrippers.

Ferris, 24, got into his first Double-A game action Monday night, going 0-for-1 at the plate for Springfield. Last season, the Cards' second-round selection in the 2004 draft batted .205 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 99 games with Palm Beach.

Church from the DL to Palm Beach

To replace Ferris, the Cardinals activated outfielder Ian Church from the disabled list. He had been rehabbing in Extended Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida, so won't have far to move his gear as he joins Palm Beach. It will be the 26-year-old Church's first regular season action in affiliated professional baseball.

The 5-foot-11 outfielder slammed 31 long balls and posted a .668 slugging percentage in 2006, both of which led all independent leagues. After signing with the Cardinals over the winter, Church was slowed by a hamstring injury during Spring Training and received only seven at-bats during March.

This month in Extended Spring Training, Church heated up, batting .333 (7-for-21), including four doubles. He collected two RBIs, struck out four times and walked three.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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