It seems that each spring, at least one non-roster invitee earns a spot on the major league roster of the St. Louis Cardinals to open the season. So it is here in 2012, as the club has added right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink to its 40-man roster. The official move is that his contract has been purchased.
The move essentially signals the 35-year-old will begin the season on the club’s 25-man roster. It was telegraphed when hard-throwing, but still erratic right-hander Eduardo Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A Memphis last week.
With Atlanta last season, Linebrink was signed to a minor league contract by the Cardinals on February 10. The veteran has played 12 seasons in the majors with the Cardinals being his seventh organization. His 3.51 ERA is fourth among active pitchers with at least 600 major league appearances.
Linebrink’s veteran status may be considered a positive for the 2012 Cardinals bullpen. Other than left-hander J.C. Romero, new closer Jason Motte, at 29 year old, was the oldest reliever on the roster.
Linebrink wasn’t just added for his age, however. This spring, he has appeared in nine games. Over 9 2/3 innings, the right-hander has yielded just one run. He fanned two and walked one.
With this move, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster is full.
The Cardinals still have 31 players in major league camp, though effectively the total is 26.
The two remaining non-roster invitees, reliever Victor Marte and infielder/outfielder Eugenio Velez, appear to be assured of being sent down. Chris Carpenter, Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig are slated to open the season on the disabled list, though those moves are not yet official.
Shane Robinson and Erik Komatsu seem to be set to open as the backup outfielders with Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter kept as infield reserves.
The only real battle remaining is the backup catcher job between Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz. That decision would get the roster down to the opening day target of 25.
To see the full rosters from the entire Cardinals system, check out the Roster Matrix, always kept current at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his minor league features during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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