Struggling all season long, the St. Louis Cardinals continue to spin their roster in search of clutch hitters and shutdown pitchers. The latest candidates from their Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, are a pair of lefties - outfielder Skip Schumaker and pitcher Troy Cate. The two were added to the Cardinals 25-man active roster in time for Monday’s home opener against the Kansas City Royals.
Currently the Cardinals have not named a starter for Wednesday night’s series finale. Two members of the current rotation, the worst by a considerable amount in the National League with a 5.64 ERA, are on thin ice.
Kip Wells has been extremely ineffective, posting a 2-11 record with a 6.93 ERA and converted reliever Braden Looper has also been in a rough stretch, topped off when he had to leave Friday night’s game in Oakland due to a shoulder strain.
As a result, Looper has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, joined by outfielder Jim Edmonds, with both moves retroactive to Saturday, June 16. The latter is out due to a pinched nerve in his lower back.
Starter Blake Hawksworth has generally been viewed as the most promising starter on the Memphis staff, but he, too, has been on a downward slide. Most recently, Hawksworth was torched for eight earned runs in 1.2 innings against Iowa on Monday afternoon. That brings the total runs the right-hander has allowed in his last four starts to 20.
Cate, 26, has been in and out of Memphis’ rotation this season. He has a 1-5 record with a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances, of which nine were starts. Cate’s ERA as a starter is 6.23 and as a reliever, just 1.80. Opponents have batted .299 against him.
In his initial taste of Major League Baseball, Cate was called up to St. Louis on May 24 only to be returned a few days later after pitching 2.1 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit over those two appearances.
For the second consecutive spring, outfielder Skip Schumaker made the Cardinals out of spring training only to be returned to Memphis. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter can play all three outfield positions and posted a tidy .314/.379/500 (BA/OBP/SLG) line in 118 at-bats with the Redbirds in 2007.
Earlier this season, Schumaker went 10-for.43 (.233) with the Cardinals. He is a career .213 hitter in small parts of three seasons in St. Louis.
Until corresponding moves are announced, the Redbirds have only three true outfielders on their roster - John Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Nick Stavinoha. Infielder John Nelson has also filled in there.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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