Mather and Izturis Back, Boggs and Barton Out

The St. Louis Cardinals returned two players to their active roster on Sunday, while one was placed on the disabled list and another was optioned out.

In an unusually busy day of roster moves on Sunday for a club that has made several dozen already this season, the St. Louis Cardinals made four more on Sunday.


Coming back


The two players restored to the club's 25-man active roster are rookie outfielder Joe Mather, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis and shortstop Cesar Izturis, who was returned to active status from the 15-day disabled list.


The latter, a 28-year-old Venezuelan, did not require a rehab outing after it was determined his strained right hamstring is healed, a malady that has troubled Izturis in the past. He went onto the DL on June 21st, the day after suffering the injury in Boston.


In his first season with St. Louis, Izturis is providing high quality defense from the shortstop position. His offense has been passable, batting .241 with one home run, 12 RBI, six stolen bases and 22 runs scored over 195 at-bats, usually from the ninth position in the batting order.


Mather, 25, was batting .303 with a team-high 16 home runs and 38 RBI for Memphis this season. The outfielder appeared in 13 games for the Cardinals earlier in 2008, from May 31 to June 14, batting .229 with a home run and three RBI.


Mather comes into St. Louis in a hitting funk, going 3-for-22 since June 27, though he did go deep in his final game with Memphis, in Omaha on July 4.


As is his customary practice with players being added to his roster, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa penned the names of both players into his starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Chicago Cubs. Mather was leading off and playing left field. Shortstop Izturis batted seventh.


Heading out


In the corresponding roster moves, rookie right-handed pitcher Mitchell Boggs was optioned to Memphis and rookie outfielder Brian Barton was placed on the 15-day disabled list.


Barton, a Rule 5 selection from Cleveland last December, is sidelined with a deep bone bruise to his right, throwing wrist. Overall, the 25-year-old is batting .246 with two home runs, 11 RBI, three stolen bases and 18 runs scored in 122 at-bats over 63 games.


Barton got out of the regular-season gates quickly, following his strong spring training with a .333 April. He then lost all his momentum at the plate, hitting .217 in May and .219 in June. He was 0-for-5 here in July.


Because of his Rule 5 status, Barton cannot be simply optioned to the minor leagues without clearing irrevocable waivers. This injury situation provides the Cardinals a convenient alternative.


They will have up to 20 days following his return to health in a rehab assignment (after a minimum of 15 days on the DL) to get Barton some minor league seasoning before having to bring him back to St. Louis.


While Boggs has earned points from many Cardinals fans due to his willingness to gut out outings, the facts demonstrate that he is not yet ready for full-time major league starting duty.


Yes, the rookie did have a nice six-inning, one run outing against the Royals on June 28, but overall, with 32 hits, 17 walks and just 12 strikeouts in 28.2 major league innings, it is clear that more seasoning is required.


What's ahead


Boggs being optioned out means the Cardinals would need a replacement starter for his next turn on Wednesday in Philadelphia. One might have considered that swingman Brad Thompson was the odds-on favorite to take Boggs' turn in the rotation.


Yet, in a surprise move, La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan are giving lefty Mark Mulder the start. That means for now Thompson will likely be deployed as a long man out of the pen.


With the moves, the Cardinals again shifted their roster from pitching-heavy (13 of 25 players) to position-player heavy. In other words, there are now five reserve position players to go with a seven-man bullpen.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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