Lyons into rotation for injured Westbrook

News-DemocratAugust 24, 2013 

— Tyler Lyons will take over Jake Westbrook's role in the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation.

Lyons, a rookie left-hander, will start at 6:08 p.m. Monday when the Cardinals play host to the Cincinnati Reds. The opportunity was created when Jake Westbrook went on the disabled list Friday morning with a lower-back strain.

"We're going to give the start to Tyler Lyons and give Jake some time on the disabled list to get his back right," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We'll figure things out from there."

Lyons is 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA in eight games, seven of them starts, for the Cardinals. He is 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 16 starts at Class AAA Memphis, where he has walked 19 and struck out 84 in 98 1/3 innings.

Westbrook, who was receiving treatment at Busch Stadium, met with reporters and described his back as feeling "tight."

"It's been tight for a little bit," said Westbrook, who is 7-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 19 games, all but one of them starts. "It's more just kind of aggravating. That's one of the things I've been fighting through. It's part of being old, I guess."

Westbrook, who turns 36 on Sept. 29, missed more than a month of the season in May and June with right elbow inflammation.

"I've been throwing through something the last couple of years; there seems to always be something," Westbrook said. "But I try to battle through it. There are no excuses from me. I never make any and I never will. I just haven't been pitching very well."

The Cardinals recalled Carlos Martinez from Memphis to take Westbrook's roster spot. Martinez is 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA in 11 games with the Cardinals, one them a start. Martinez will work out of the bullpen.

Westbrook said his back gave him the most difficulty in his last start Wednesday at Milwaukee. The Cardinals staked Westbrook to a commanding 7-0 lead in the second inning, but he couldn't survive the fifth and didn't get a decision in an 8-6 victory.

"I've had back troubles in the past," Westbrook said while also expressing hope that it will be a short-term inconvenience.

"One of the reasons they want to put me on the DL is to kind of knock it out and get me back to where I don't have any of those nagging things," he said. "I need to get back to full strength so I can get back to, hopefully, helping again. The 15 days will help."

Matheny said Westbrook offered minimal resistance to his placement on the disabled list.

"When you're sore, it's hard to compete at this level," Matheny said. "Jake was having trouble. He was trying to fight through it. It's always a tough balance for a player to push whenever he can, but also try and be as good as he can be to get big-league hitters out."

Westbrook and the Cardinals have a $9.5 million mutual option for the 2014 season. The Cardinals can buy out Westbrook for $1 million.

Westbrook said he can't pitch feeling the way he does now.

"I guess my body's breaking down on me, and that's part of the innings I've accumulated over my career," said Westbrook, who has thrown 1,745 1/3 innings since 2000. "It's been tough. It's been frustrating."

Matheny said he probably will maintain a regular rotation after the off day Thursday. That means Lyons would get another start Sept. 1 in Pittsburgh.

"It's not like we've had a lot of (off days) to rest guys," Matheny said. "We'll see when we get closer."

Mujica unavailable

Closer Edward Mujica played catch Friday but was unavailable to pitch in the game.

Mujica, who has 33 saves in 35 chances, is experiencing discomfort in the back of his shoulder and in his neck.

"He said he woke up feeling better," Matheny said. "(Thursday), he didn't feel too bad until he went and played catch."

Wong makes start

Rookie Kolten Wong made his first Busch Stadium start at second base. Wong was 0-for-2 in the Cardinals' 3-1 win and is batting .238 (5-for-21).

"It's going to be fun," Wong said hours before the first pitch. "To finally get to open up at Busch Stadium is something that's going to be a good time for me tonight."

Wong, the Cardinals' No. 1 draft pick in 2011 (22nd overall), earned his big-league chance by batting .303 with 21 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 107 games at Memphis.

"That's the good thing about being part of this organization. If you do what you need to do, they'll give you the opportunity," Wong said. "Luckily enough for me, I've done what I can do and what they hoped of me. They've blessed me with the opportunity to be here."

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

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