Less than one week after being designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals, catcher Eric Fryer found himself back at Busch Stadium.
Fryer was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were in St. Louis on Monday and began a four-game series with a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals. Fryer was in uniform and ready for action, but did not play against his former team.
“It’s kind of ironic how it all worked out, with my first game being back here,” said Fryer, who played for the Pirates for parts of 2011 and 2012. “The week was pretty relaxing with my family back home (in Ohio), but I’m real excited to be here with Pittsburgh and be able to hopefully pick up where I left off.”
The Pirates are without their No. 1 catcher, Francisco Cervelli, who has a broken left hamate bone in his left hand. Chris Stewart was placed on the disabled list Monday with a sore left knee, leaving Fryer and Erik Kratz as Pittsburgh’s catchers.
It’s kind of ironic how it all worked out, with my first game being back here. The week was pretty relaxing with my family back home (in Ohio), but I’m real excited to be here with Pittsburgh and be able to hopefully pick up where I left off.
Former St. Louis Cardinals backup catcher Eric Fryer on being signed by Pittsburgh
“It’s my second time (here), with a lot of the same faces,” Fryer said. “Hopefully, it will make it easier fitting in here. They’ve built something pretty good here.
“I was definitely happy (in St. Louis). I wanted to go out whenever I got my chances and leave it out on the field, (with) no regrets. I feel like I did that. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things with baseball and the business side of things. If you don’t have any options left, they’ve got to put you on waivers.”
Fryer, 30, batted .368 (14-for-38) with two doubles, five RBIs and a .415 on-base percentage in 24 games with the Cardinals. Fryer replaced backup Brayan Pena, who underwent knee surgery near the end of spring training. Pena was activated last week.
“I sent him a message that I’m not so happy for us, but I’m very happy for him,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Fryer. “I think what he was able to do this year should allow him to be on a big-league team. Numbers and kind of the way the game goes didn’t work out for us to be able to hold on to him. Sometimes those options would be nice to have, but this worked out well with the fact he’s on a big-league roster.”
I was definitely happy (in St. Louis). I wanted to go out whenever I got my chances and leave it out on the field, (with) no regrets. I feel like I did that. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things with baseball and the business side of things. If you don’t have any options left, they’ve got to put you on waivers.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle is glad to welcome back Fryer.
“We know Eric,” he said. “We got to see him this year. He does a solid job behind the plate. He’ll have a learning curve ahead of him catching some (different) pitchers again. He’s handled the bat well, so he was a very good get for us at a very needy time. For us to be able to run across a guy with the experience that he has ... we feel we’re fortunate.
“(Stewart) can’t play back-to-back days. When you have two catchers and one of them can’t play back-to-back days ... His limited availability made it an easy decision to (disable him). He’s gutted through it. We needed to do what was best for him and we needed to do what was best for the team.”
Weaver, Sanchez honored
Class AA Springfield right-hander Luke Weaver on Monday was named the Cardinals’ minor-league Pitcher of the Month for June. Rookie-level Dominican Summer League outfielder Brian Sanchez was recognized as their minor-league Player of the Month.
Weaver, 22, was 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in five starts, helping Springfield clinch the first-half championship in the North Division of the Texas League North Division.
Weaver, the Cardinals’ first-round selection (27th overall) out of Florida State in 2014, is 4-1 with a 0.96 ERA, six walks and 42 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
Sanchez, 20, batted .369 (31-for-84) with six home runs and 32 RBIs in 21 games. The right-handed hitter, signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in November 2014, is a native of the Dominican Republic. He has been hitting fourth for the DSL Cardinals.
Sanchez led the DSL Cardinals with 45 RBIs in his 60 games last season.
Matheny on 4th of July
Count Matheny as one of many who enjoy the connection between baseball and the Fourth of July.
“It’s a day we pause and are grateful for what we have in this country,” Matheny said. “It’s something we do take for granted all too often, the freedoms we have here and just how good we have it.
“I had two grandfathers that fought in World War II and an uncle in Vietnam. I know the stories and I know the commitment and sacrifice that was given. I constantly try to promote the fact that those are the heroes. We get an opportunity to sign a lot of autographs, but I think in the real world, our soldiers would be the ones that would have kids lined up asking for their autographs because they’re the ones that are really sacrificing.”
Pham ailing again
Outfielder Tommy Pham, who has been on the disabled list most of the season with a strained left oblique, was scratched from the lineup Monday because of right shoulder stiffness.
Pham started in center field in all three games against the Milwaukee Brewers and was 3-for-10 with a double and and two walks.
Pham is batting .219 with two home runs and two RBIs in 15 games. Brandon Moss started in right field, with Stephen Piscotty moving to center to replace Pham.
“It’s just a little inflammation,” Pham said. “We’ll get it out in a day or two. It’s already feeling better. Depending on how I respond after tonight, I should be available (Tuesday).”
Pham said he injured the shoulder diving for a ball Sunday.
“I kind of landed on it hard,” Pham said. “It was feeling sore later on in the afternoon. It just didn’t get any better with treatment. I thought it would be best just to to take a day and have somebody else give the team the best shot to win.”
Matheny isn’t sure how seriously Pham is injured. The manager said Pham was “off the table” for even pinch-hitting Monday.
“He said he couldn’t go today,” Matheny said. “It happened after BP. He said something didn’t feel right after he took a dive in the outfield (Sunday). We had no word on it until right after BP, which was pushed back pretty close to game time. Doctors looked at him and we thought they were going to give him the green light, but he wasn’t feeling it.”