Reliever Jordan Walden, who complained of right-shoulder stiffness Thursday, landed on the St. Louis Cardinals’ disabled list Sunday morning with bicep inflammation.
Walden, who first informed the Cardinals of his discomfort Friday, was replaced on the roster by hard-throwing Sam Tuivailala. At Class AAA Memphis, the 22-year-old Tuivailala was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in eight games and nine innings, with six walks and 12 strikeouts.
“Just like we tell all these guys when they’re in Memphis, ‘Be the guy who’s throwing the ball best and make it obvious that you’re the one that can come up here and help us,’” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s been throwing the ball well. He’s been in the strike zone, he’s been controlling counts. I think he’s gaining faith in his secondary pitches. There’s no doubt there’s enough fastball there.
“He’s just trying to know when and how to use the changeup and the breaking ball. Both of them are plus pitches if he trusts them. He’s been making those steps in the right direction.”
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Tuivailala, who will wear No. 64, is pleased with how he’s been pitching. He worked two innings in the Cardinals’ 3-2 win in 14 innings Sunday against Pittsburgh, allowing a home run to Pedro Alvarez in the 12th.
“Everything’s been coming together pretty good,” he said. “Obviously, there’s going to be days when one pitch isn’t working and another one is. But I’m just trying to be consistent with all three right now. For the most part, that’s been helping me out pretty good.”
Tuivailala received word of his recall after the game Saturday in New Orleans. He took an early morning flight to St. Louis on Sunday.
“I came straight from the airport,” Tuivailala said from the Cardinals clubhouse. “I’m kind of relaxed, actually. Just getting a little bit of a taste last year definitely helped out. I’m comfortable here and know the guys. I’m pretty excited to be here. Getting to play at the higher level is always a good experience for me.”
Tuivailala was 0-0 with a 36.00 ERA in two games with the Cardinals last season, allowing four runs (earned) on five hits in one inning. Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco homered off Tuivailala in a Sept. 21 game against Cincinnati at Busch Stadium.
“What it comes down to is showing what you can do here and competing here,” Matheny said. “That’s something that he has the stuff to do. But there’s a huge transition that needs to happen, and that mostly revolves around pitching, not just throwing. Even though he throws 100 (mph), that 100 will get hit if he’s in hitters’ counts and throwing to the middle of the plate.”
Tuivailala said he feels more comfortable and confident since spring training.
“Just relaxing more. Kind of slowing the game down,” he said. “That was a big deal for me. And just have the confidence when you’re out there. Don’t give in to anything. Just attack the guys and challenging them with the stuff I have. Believing in myself. After you keep playing more games over and over, it starts to become normal for you.”
Walden, acquired with right fielder Jason Heyward from the Atlanta Braves in November for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, is 0-1 with an 0.87 ERA and one save in 12 games and 10 1/3 innings. He has 12 strikeouts and has limited hitters to a .189 average.
“He was feeling good, but (Thursday) he said, ‘Something doesn’t feel right,’ so we shut him down,” Matheny said. “Then (Friday), he said he probably could really benefit from another day. We shut him down again and told him not to even pick up a ball. We felt like we were going extra-cautious with him, following kind of his lead on that.”
The Cardinals warmed up Walden on Saturday in their 2-1 victory in 11 innings over Pittsburgh and he was about ready to enter the game when Matheny was told the soreness had returned. Mitch Harris, instead, was hurriedly warmed and summoned into the game.
Lyons gets the nod
Matheny confirmed that Tyler Lyons will be promoted from Memphis on Tuesday and make the start at 7:15 p.m. against the Chicago Cubs.
Lyons, 27, is 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA in four starts at Memphis. He is coming off eight shutout innings Tuesday against Round Rock, when he walked one and struck out six.
“Tyler’s had a couple of nice starts in Memphis and he seems to be throwing the ball extremely well. We’re going to try keep that going,” Matheny said.
Matheny said it’s likely the Cardinals will option a reliever to Memphis when Lyons is activated. Lyons will be the second new starter to the rotation since Adam Wainwright suffered a torn left Achilles. Tim Cooney started Thursday, but has since been optioned to Memphis.
“We feel good about it,” Matheny said of giving Lyons an opportunity. “We knew he was one of the options when we talked about Tim Cooney coming in. We’ll give (Lyons) an opportunity and see how it looks. Tyler has a pretty good idea of what he can do. It’s just the consistency of holding it through a game, holding it from start to start.”
Outfielder Randal Grichuk still isn’t ready to return from the disabled list, Matheny said. Grichuk injured his lower back while lifting weights.
“It sounds like they’re still kind of amping it up a little bit, but not too fast,” Matheny said of the process of getting Grichuk ready again. “We’re still keeping an eye on it and making sure. That’s the kind of injury that could really nag if you don’t handle it properly.”