Garcia a candidate to start Saturday for injured Lyons

News-DemocratMay 13, 2014 

— There may be a Jaime Garcia sighting in St. Louis on Saturday when the Cardinals play the Atlanta Braves.

The Cardinals on Tuesday placed left-hander Tyler Lyons on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. Lyons, who was in the rotation for the injured Joe Kelly, allowed nine runs on nine hits in four innings of a 17-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

Garcia pitched for Class AAA Memphis on Monday and allowed two runs (earned) on three hits, including a home run, in five innings against Round Rock. He had two walks and five strikeouts.

"We haven't made that decision yet. It's a possibility," Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said of turning to Garcia. "We certainly will revisit that in the near future. We have to make a decision by Saturday.

"I want to know how he feels. He threw very well (Monday) night. Reports of how he pitched were extremely positive. More importantly, it's going to be how he feels from a physical standpoint. But I am encouraged."

Garcia will throw a bullpen Wednesday, but Mozeliak said he didn't know whether that would be in Memphis or St. Louis.

Mozeliak said left-hander Tim Cooney also is a candidate to start. Cooney is 4-2 with a 2.94 in eight starts at Memphis.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny does not consider Carlos Martinez an option to start. Martinez, who profiles as a starter in the future, is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in 18 relief appearances.

Roster moves

Lyons' trip to the disabled list wasn't the only roster move the Cardinals made Tuesday. They also optioned reliever Eric Fornataro to Memphis.

The Cardinals were disappointed about Lyons' injury.

"My hope is it's not a long-term thing, but certainly, it's a bummer given that prior to (Monday) night's outing he had been throwing very well," Mozeliak said.

Lyons said he felt fine for the first two innings.

"The third, (I felt it) a little bit. The fourth is when I felt it probably the most," Lyons said. "I've never had any shoulder issues previously. I don't think they anticipate anything being serious. We're being cautious."

Fornataro was 0-0 with a 4.70 ERA in seven games.

"Fornataro was more a victim of circumstance in the sense of we need fresh arms up here (Tuesday)," Mozeliak said. "Given the fact that he has an option, we were able to do that. I was really pleased with how he threw in getting his experience up here. So I think he benefited from that and hopefully he'll grow from it."

Taking Lyons' and Fornataro's spots on the roster were left-hander Sam Freeman and right-hander Jorge Rondon. Freeman was 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA in 13 games for the Redbirds, while Rondon was 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 games.

"I wanted to work on throwing strikes and attacking the zone. I feel I was able to do that," said Freeman, who has six walks and 20 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. "I've tried to simplify things and get back to attacking hitters and let my stuff do all the work. I got away from a simple approach. Everything is where I want it to be."

Big day for prospects

Second baseman Kolten Wong and outfielders Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk played huge roles in Memphis' 14-3 win over Round Rock on Tuesday.

Wong was 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. Taveras, who played left field, was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Grichuk, who played center field, was 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs.

Wong has done everything the Cardinals wanted to see when they optioned him to Memphis on April 27.

"I think he's checking a lot of boxes right now," Mozeliak said. "I do think from a performance standpoint, he's done exactly what we had hoped he would do. From a defensive standpoint, I've heard nothing but positives."

Mozeliak indicated that Wong could soon be back with the Cardinals.

"We may make a decision on that in the near future as well," he said.

Taveras is batting .307 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 36 games.

"I think he's making progress," Mozeliak said. "He's working on his jumps. He's working on positioning. The good news is he's out there. His offense is still continuing to be very strong. I think we've got to be realistic of our expectations of what he's going to be as a center fielder. But just having him continue to work on it helps."

Motte throws

Former closer Jason Motte threw one scoreless inning for Memphis on Tuesday as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Mozeliak said Motte, whose fastball was timed between 91 and 95 mph, will pitch again Thursday. He said the Cardinals might consider using Motte for two innings.

Mozeliak didn't seem comfortable with Motte's velocity.

"Given where he's coming from, I think that's OK," he said. "But when he was at his best, he was someone (throwing) 97, 98."

When might Motte return to St. Louis?

"I think Motte is still sort of day-to-day in terms of determining when we could possibly see him," Mozeliak said. "I'm not in a place of high confidence to tell you when he might pitch."

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

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