Rzepczynski returns to bullpen mix; Cardinals facing long road trip

News-DemocratJuly 25, 2013 

— After a three-month stint at Class AAA Memphis, Marc Rzepczynski is back in the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen.

Rzepczynski was recalled from Memphis on Thursday when the Cardinals optioned prospect Carlos Martinez. His arrival gives St. Louis three left-handers in the bullpen.

Rzepczynski was 0-0 with a 7.88 ERA in nine games with the Cardinals before he was optioned to Memphis on April 29. Rzepczynski was 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA for the Redbirds, limiting left-handed hitters to a .185 average.

"I was trying to do my job down there, trying to get better," Rzepczynski said. "The bullpen (in St. Louis) has been doing their job. I just was waiting for the time being and I'm glad to be back."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Rzepczynski "has been throwing the ball well."

"More importantly," Matheny said, "it worked out to the point where Carlos really wasn't getting the amount of innings he needed. We needed to (make sure) he's getting built up and able to improve. He's still a very young pitcher."

Martinez is 0-0 with a 5.66 ERA in 10 relief outings for the Cardinals this season. He threw a scoreless ninth Wednesday in an 11-3 victory over Philadelphia.

"It was nice to get him in (Wednesday) night to have a good feeling before he went off," Matheny said.

Rzepczynski was stretched out with Memphis and even had one appearance in which he threw 50 pitches. The Cardinals had primarily used him as a specialist, something that could change with lefties Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist also in the bullpen.

"When he came over here (in 2011), a lot of the conversation was going towards he could be a starter," Matheny said of Rzepczynski. "But right now, we'll just use him as a guy that can eat up a couple of innings if we need him to."

That's fine with Rzepczynski.

"If they want me to go two innings, I'm definitely in shape for it," he said. "I threw in 30 games, 40 innings. That's unlike me, especially since relieving. So I'm just glad to be back and hopefully help the team win. I hope I can be around the rest of the year."

One at a time

The Cardinals haven't talked much about their important 11-game road trip, and that's been by design. The trip begins Friday with a three-game series in Atlanta, followed by five games against Pittsburgh --including a doubleheader Tuesday --and three against Cincinnati.

"One of the clear, common messages is just deal with today," Matheny said. "When we jump on the plane, it will take us to the right place and we'll end up at the right hotel. Then we can start studying the right team, and we can play them then.

"I just think if we get our heads too far into what's in front of us, you lose some of your focus on the here and now. And we've got plenty of here and now. I'll say the same thing tomorrow.

"I'm not saying I'm oblivious to what our schedule looks like. I understand that. But so much of this game's a mental war, where you can feel your mind slipping toward anything. You name it. This is a great example. It would be easy to sit there and start (saying), 'We've got to do this or that.' That's a waste."

Holliday on schedule

Left fielder Matt Holliday is expected to be activated from the disabled list before the Cardinals' game against the Braves at 2:05 p.m. Saturday. Holliday has been out since July 12 with a strained right hamstring.

"We'll just wait and see how he feels Saturday, but we anticipate having him," Matheny said.

Holliday's wife, Leslee, gave birth to the couple's fourth child, and third son, Wednesday night.

"The timing worked out pretty well so he could be around to watch the birth, so we're very happy for he and Leslie," Matheny said. "Everybody's healthy. He was planning on coming with us anyhow (on the road trip) until he got absolutely to when (the birth) was going to happen."

Roster move

The Cardinals will add a pitcher Tuesday before their doubleheader in Pittsburgh.

Lance Lynn will start one of the games, and Matheny said Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons are candidates to start the other game. Martinez is not under consideration.

Third-string catcher Rob Johnson is the position player most likely to be optioned.

"It's difficult every time," Matheny said of the pending move. "These aren't just commodities; these are people. It's always inevitable, too, that when you make a move with somebody, their parents just came in or their wife just took vacation time.

"It's a big deal to guys, not just on a personal side, but on a professional side, too. For the betterment of their career, it's hard for any of them to believe anywhere but here is the best place to be."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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