Salas heading to Triple-A Memphis; Beltran leads All-Star balloting

News-DemocratJune 17, 2013 

— St. Louis Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas, on the disabled list since May 21, will report to Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday to begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.

Salas, who is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 games, has not pitched since May 20 in San Diego because of shoulder inflammation.

"I feel good," Salas said Monday. "I've told our trainer (Greg Hauck) I don't feel any pain. (But) I don't know the next step. Will I throw to hitters in a simulated game or in a (real) game?

"It's a process. The good thing is I don't feel any pain. There's a difference throwing a side (session) from a game. I think it's a good idea to throw in a simulated game or a game because the arm is good. ... I'm excited. I hope I don't have any more problems."

Salas said he needs to rebuild his confidence after being off the mound for so long. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny understood.

"You can have confidence that your arm's (healthy), confidence that your stuff is right," Matheny said. "You can feel great throwing in the pen, but until you see it first-hand, see how hitters react to (your pitches), you don't have a great measuring stick."

Beltran moves ahead

Carlos Beltran has taken the lead in balloting for a starting outfield spot in the All-Star Game.

Beltran has 2,385,240 votes, ahead of Atlanta's Justin Upton (2,054,225) and Washington's Bryce Harper (1,981,030) among outfielders. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun has slipped to fourth place (1,645,094).

The Cardinals' Matt Holliday is sixth among outfielders (1,330,471), while Jon Jay is 13th (884,323).

Beltran began Monday batting .306 with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs.

"Incredible," Matheny said of Beltran's consistent production. "A guy that you anticipate kind of plateauing off just seems to keep getting better. It's nice that his body is cooperating with him.

"I just watched him in the weightroom working out, and it's not just by chance. He's doing a lot to stay in the shape he's in, and we're trying to listen to him and give him some days (off). It's been pretty nice that we've been able to give him some rest, play some of the other guys and still (see) him be as productive as he's been."

Other positional leaders in the All-Star Game balloting are: Cincinnati's Joey Votto at first base; Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips at second base; Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop; San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval at third base; San Francisco's Buster Posey at catcher.

The Cardinals' Yadier Molina (2,543,588) is in second place and pushing Posey (2,606,434) for the starting spot. Matt Carpenter (1,508,314) is in third place at second base, behind the front-running Phillips (2,021,277) and San Francisco's Marco Scutaro (1,717,875).

Losing luster?

For years, the Cardinals and Cubs were recognized as one of the best rivalries in baseball.

That no longer seems to be the case. The Cubs have been futile the last four years and the Cardinals have turned their attention to Cincinnati while also keeping one eye on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I think every team in the Central (Division) is a rival for us," Matheny said. "We've certainly had plenty of tough games with (the Cubs), and I don't imagine these are going to be any different.

"It's always nice when you've got Cubs fans making their way down here --just like Cardinals fans make their way up there --to add to the excitement. But we're anxious to get back and play in front of our home fans."

Carpenter sore

Rehabilitating right-hander Chris Carpenter threw an extended bullpen session Sunday at Busch Stadium.

Matheny was told Carpenter's workout went well, but that he continues to battle tightness in his back.

"We're watching that," Matheny said.

Carpenter did not want to talk to reporters Monday.

Six others sign

The Cardinals signed six other players Monday, including five who were chosen in the amateur draft last week.

The players were:

* Outfielder Ricardo Bautista, selected in the 12th round (365th overall).

* Outfielder DeAndre Asbury-Heath, 15th round (425th).

* Shortstop Michael Schulze, 19th round (575th).

* Outfielder Anthony Ray, 36th round (1,085th).

* Right-hander Arturo Reyes, 40th round (1,205th).

The Cardinals also signed Brandon Lee, a right-hander fromSouth Carolina Upstate who was not taken in the draft. Lee was 7-6 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts, with 13 walks and 80 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. Opposing hitters batted .281 against Lee.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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