Steven Hill Gets His Big Chance

Jason LaRue's concussion and Jeff Suppan's groin injury have created an opportunity for Springfield catcher Steven Hill to become a major leaguer.

With the St. Louis Cardinals in the first day of dealing with reserve catcher Jason LaRue's injuries sustained at the cleats of Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto, the club made a pair of roster moves on Wednesday.

In what seems at first blush as a major surprise, the contract of catcher Steven Hill was purchased from Double-A Springfield while pitcher Jeff Suppan was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a groin injury.

Hill, 25, is a 2009 and 2010 Texas League All-Star with a reputation as a good hitter and an improving catcher. He first joined Springfield a couple of months into the 2008 season and has remained there pretty much ever since. In addition to catching, Hill has experience at first base and in the outfield.

Hill's line this season is .280/.352/.543 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI in 361 at-bats over 93 games. The right-handed hitter leads the Texas League in RBI by ten over the next closest competitor and is tied with Roger Clemens' son Koby for the most home runs in the circuit. Hill is also second in the league in slugging. He has been assigned uniform number 60 with St. Louis.

Though both catchers with the Memphis Redbirds, Bryan Anderson and Matt Pagnozzi, are already on the 40-man roster, the club had a late-evening game Tuesday night in Reno, Nevada. The logistical challenge in getting a catcher to Cincinnati in time for the Wednesday afternoon game played heavily into the decision to add Hill. reports that in addition to a concussion, LaRue has sore ribs that will require an X-ray when the team returns to St. Louis. The reserve catcher and former Cincinnati Reds starter is unavailable to play in the interim.

Suppan was scheduled to start the finale of the Florida Marlins series last Sunday in Miami and warmed up. Because the game was called off by rain, he did not actually pitch. On Monday, the 35-year-old apparently suffered the injury while running and was unavailable as a reliever in Cincinnati.

The Suppan move potentially has little impact on the Cardinals time-wise since it could be back-dated to August 1. Suppan last pitched in game action on July 31. The club will also need to decide when to bring Kyle Lohse back, who after a couple of uneven innings, finished strong in his seven-inning rehab stint with Memphis on Tuesday night.

The Cardinals cleared one spot on their 40-man roster when Brad Penny was previously placed on the 60-day disabled list. Hill just took that spot, the final open place currently on the 40-man. When Lohse is ready to come off the 60-day DL, another move will be required. David Freese, already out for the season, or perhaps Adam Ottavino appear to be easy possibilities. Lohse will start against Chicago on Sunday, reports FOX Sports Midwest.

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