On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they optioned outfielder Jon Jay and infielder Tyler Greene to the roster of Triple-A Memphis.
Despite not yet having made his major league debut, Jay, 25, had two significant advantages over his outfield competition. First, he bats left-handed, something only Colby Rasmus does among the organization’s top eight outfielders. Second, he can play in centerfield, with the club needing a back up for Rasmus.
Unfortunately, he excelled at neither, batting just .237 (11-for-38) with just one extra-base hit. Jay also struck out eight times this spring. Further, he looked tentative in centerfield, seemingly not ready to play there in the big leagues. Hence, his return to Memphis became expected.
Greene, the former first-round pick in 2005 from Georgia Tech, was coming off a strong 2009 in which he made his major league debut, with 108 at-bats. The 26-year-old was a key cog for Memphis’ championship club, with a line of .291/.369/.482. He also stole 31 bases in 34 attempts.
Like Jay, Greene struggled at times defensively this spring, which seemed to seal his fate. He went just 7-for-35 (.200) at the plate, which hardly helped his candidacy. While a minor hand injury may have been a factor, Greene does not appear to be headed to the disabled list. Probably the biggest consideration against Greene making the team was the February 26 signing of free agent Felipe Lopez.
Both players should get another shot as openings ensue.
Following these transactions, the Cardinals have 29 players remaining in Major League camp, including one non-roster invitee, pitcher Rich Hill. Catcher Matt Pagnozzi, optioned out earlier, returns unofficially to serve as backup catcher behind Jason LaRue while Yadier Molina is out.
Pitchers remaining that will likely be optioned before the end of camp include P.J. Walters and one of Mitchell Boggs or Adam Ottavino. Hill is also probably headed down as is one of the two outfielders Allen Craig or Nick Stavinoha. That would get the Cardinals down to the required opening day count of 25.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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