Returning home from their six-game road trip to the National League West, the St. Louis Cardinals added a pair of reinforcements on Monday. Left-handed hitting outfielder Jon Jay and shortstop Tyler Greene have been promoted from Triple-A Memphis, taking the place of outfielder Allen Craig, optioned to Memphis and infielder Felipe Lopez, headed to the 15-day disabled list.
Since the start of the season, the Cardinals bench has been right-handed heavy with Lopez, a switch-hitter, the only one of the five reserves who can bat from the left side. That changed when reserve catcher Jason LaRue went onto the disabled list effective on April 12 and left-handed hitting rookie catcher Bryan Anderson was added. However, the backup catcher is traditionally always held in reserve for an emergency. Further, LaRue is expected to be activated on Tuesday with Anderson returning to Memphis.
Jay, 25, offers Tony La Russa a left-handed hitter who has been hot at the plate. His 16-game hit streak ended on Sunday on the heels of a three-hit performance on Saturday. Jay had hit safely in every Memphis game in which he had played this season prior to Sunday.
The former Miami Hurricanes star, taken in the second round of the 2006 draft, is tied with Daniel Descalso for the Memphis team lead with six multi-hit games. Jay’s Triple-A line on the season is .347/.420/.542.
Jay’s first appearance with St. Louis will be his major league debut. He was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster this past November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
Jay and to a lesser extent, Greene, came into camp in Florida this February as strong candidates to make the major league team out of spring training. Neither performed well with the bat or glove, however, as ironically both were optioned to Memphis on the same day, March 26.
Jay could have claimed the reserve centerfield spot that went to Joe Mather, but appeared tentative at times in the field during camp. Further, he posted a line of .231/.279/.282 and struck out eight times in 39 at-bats over 18 spring games.
Greene, 26, made his major league debut almost exactly one year ago, on April 30. The versatile infielder appeared at five positions for the 2009 Cardinals in 48 games, including all four infield spots as well as centerfield.
In just 89 games with Triple-A Memphis in 2009, the right-handed hitter hit 15 home runs and was 31-for-34 in stolen base attempts. The latter total is second-best in Redbirds team history.
Greene is considered a plus defender, which made his fielding woes in 2010 spring camp all the more surprising. He committed three official errors and his play was not crisp. His batting line was just .194/.275/.333 in 36 at-bats over 18 games.
With Memphis, Greene’s fielding troubles continued as he has made seven errors in 18 games this season while his batting line is .275/.351/435. He has two home runs, six RBI and is 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts.
Jay has been assigned Jim Edmonds’ old number 15 while Greene will continue to wear the number 27 jersey. Both are expected to be available for Monday night’s series opener against Atlanta at Busch Stadium, though neither is in the starting lineup.
Craig, the undisputed Player of the Year in the Cardinals system in 2009, made the club after a strong spring training camp in which his line was .300/.373/.567. The 25-year-old hit two home runs and drove in nine. However, in his regular-season major league debut stint, he was just 1-for-18 at the plate. While returning to Memphis will likely be a personal disappointment to Craig, he will receive the advantage of regular play that could not be afforded him in St. Louis.
Lopez, a valuable infield reserve, reportedly injured his right elbow in Milwaukee on April 11, but did not deem it serious enough to report to team officials. The problem worsened after he threw a scoreless inning of relief in the Cardinals’ 20-inning contest against the New York Mets on Saturday, April 17. Lopez has missed considerable time since and apparently the problem worsened to the point a disabled list trip was deemed necessary. It is officially being called a Grade 1 right elbow strain. More on his condition will be provided when available.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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