There was movement in exact opposite corners of the Cardinals' cramped quarters in the bowels of Shea Stadium on Tuesday. Next to Scott Rolen in the far corner are usually the spots occupied by Jim Edmonds and Chris Carpenter. Edmonds, on the 15-day disabled list, is not on the trip. Now, there was a second empty stall there.
Carpenter left the ballclub, heading to Jupiter, Florida, where he will throw a simulated game on Wednesday against Cardinals minor leaguers in camp. If all goes well, the ace's next step will be to go on a rehab assignment in the minor league system, location to be determined.
The other newly-vacated stall was even less of a surprise. Where reliever Andy Cavazos called home is now empty, as the righty was optioned out to Memphis to clear room on the 25-man roster for Troy Percival.
Percival is wearing uniform #40 and is ready to go. With he and Mike Maroth both there on their first regular day on the team, there were a number of "hellos" being exchanged. I say "regular day" in that Maroth's first day with the club was also a day he was starting. Out of respect in not talking with a starter on his day, I was not the only one who avoided Maroth before Monday's game. It was kind of weird.
Tony La Russa told me that he has no special restrictions in using Percival, but is going to use him in a short relief role, likely to go along with workhorse Ryan Franklin.
Speaking of Franklin, even though he went 2 2/3 innings Monday, La Russa proclaimed him as available to pitch if needed Tuesday.
La Russa was understandably pleased with Maroth's two-hit, 7 1/3 inning outing on Monday and good-naturedly chided a writer who asked if Maroth would get another start. La Russa said even he, who admitted that he has to stretch his credibility at times, couldn't say that Maroth isn't deserving. The manager admitted Maroth gives the Cardinals a different look.
I looked into the trade for Maroth a bit more. Technically, the player to be named later can be from any level in the system, including the majors, if that is what both parties agree. In this case, the Tigers needed to make a roster move for Kenny Rogers coming off the disabled list, so didn't want someone that didn't provide roster relief. So, the Cards offered up a list of players. The Tigers have from now until the end of the season to pull the trigger. Though I could not confirm this, I suspect the list is not position-specific and may not be level-specific, either.
I asked David Eckstein if Maroth had returned his bat that yielded the newest starter his first NL hit on Monday night. Eckstein replied, "It's funny you mention that. It is right here. He (Maroth) loaded it up with pine tar (showing me the bat handle). I don't use that. There's too much tar. I am going to give this (bat) back to him right now." With that, he got up and walked over to Maroth and did just that!
All of the sudden, the Cardinals have more healthy starters than spots. While there has been no announcement, I can't help but wonder if we have seen Kip Wells' last start for awhile, despite a decent rain-delayed outing against Philadelphia last weekend. We shall see…
24 hours after catcher Yadier Molina took his first batting practice (he took a regular turn Tuesday, too), Tuesday it was David Eckstein's day for a first. The shortstop took "a lot" of early BP in his initial return so didn't need his regular turn, though was cleared to do so if he chose. "Gotta watch the back," Eckstein explained.
Fellow shortstop Brendan Ryan knows his time is marked in his second call-up this month. When Eckstein is ready, Ryan will likely return to Memphis. As we were chatting before the game, Ryan told me that he thought Anthony Reyes was starting Tuesday. I said I didn't think so, that it was Todd Wellemeyer's turn. When we walked over to where Joe Pettini taped the lineup card to the wall (in a different spot from last season), much to his and my surprise, Ryan saw his name among the starters. All of the sudden, he didn't care that I was right about Wellemeyer.
I asked La Russa what went into his decision to start Ryan. The skipper said it was an easy choice. Here is the chain reaction. Scott Rolen isn't ready to go with his sore foot. That puts Scott Spiezio at third base. Adam Kennedy is struggling and the Mets are starting a lefty, Oliver Perez. And that is the logic.
Batting Spiezio second was a decision the skipper made to try to get out on top, mentioning that not only will Spiezio get to hit in the first, but may also get another shot in the ninth. Aaron Miles was the other option considered.
The official ruling on Rolen is a bone contusion on the top of his left foot. At this point, he is considered day-to-day.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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