Reliever Matt Belisle, who hasn’t pitched since Thursday, was placed on the St. Louis Cardinals’ disabled list Tuesday with right elbow inflammation.
The Cardinals purchased the contract of Marcus Hatley from Class AAA Memphis to replace Belisle. They also transferred reliever Jordan Walden to the 60-day disabled list. Walden, recovering from a shoulder injury, already has been sidelined two months.
Hatley, 27, never has pitched in the big leagues. He received news of his promotion Tuesday morning from Memphis manager Mike Shildt, then drove to St. Louis. He arrived about 4:15 p.m.
“A very, very exciting day today,” Hatley said. “I got the call this morning and I didn’t really believe it at first. I had just woke up and I think I was a little bit kind of dazy still. I was sitting there and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get all my stuff packed.’ I just hurried and got in my car and I just wanted to get here to experience everything.
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“(The drive) felt like forever. It was four very long hours. I called all my family and they were very excited to hear about it. It was a good drive, too. My mom, she cried and had to call me back. Once she gathered herself, it was a very good experience for me.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Hatley will wear No. 67. He was 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA and three saves in 27 games at Memphis, with 15 walks and 27 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings. The Cardinals signed Hatley to a minor-league free-agent contract in November after he spent the first eight years of his career in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Hatley, who throws a two-seamer, a cutter and an occasional curveball, grabbed the Cardinals’ attention in spring training when he logged a 2.70 ERA in eight Grapefruit League games. He walked one and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings.
“I’ve just been trying to continue what I did in spring training. I think I did that for the most part,” said Hatley, who was 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA in May. “The team started playing really well together. It was just a really good experience together with the team. I’m a guy that wants to pitch every day. Whether that was the case or not, it was good because I love pitching.”
As special as things were in Memphis, they’re even better in St. Louis as the Cardinals began Tuesday with a major league-best record of 51-24.
“They’ve been playing unbelievable,” Hatley said. “I try to watch them as often as I can. Hopefully, I’ll come up here and play a small part as we continue in that winning. That’s all I can do.”
Belisle, who is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 games, said the inflammation in his elbow “kind of took everybody by surprise, including me.” Belisle joined Walden, left fielder Matt Holliday, first baseman Matt Adams and pitcher Adam Wainwright on the disabled list.
“(Thursday) in Miami, I had a strong outing and felt good,” Belisle said. “But getting on the plane, things progressively got a little worse. It stiffened up and got sore. We knew there was an issue, and I woke up the next morning with a lot of limited range of motion. I knew something wasn’t right and I just couldn’t pitch.
“We did what we could with a little bit of rest (over the weekend), then I tried to play a little bit of catch and aggravated it a little bit more. The best thing for the team’s sake is to get another arm in here and give this time to do what it needs to.”
An MRI on Belisle’s elbow showed no structural damage.
“That’s very good news,” Belisle said. “We’ve just got to get this swelling down and then do another assessment. This is best for the team. That’s what matters. I know my body well and I heal strongly, so I’m not going to fret over anything.”
First baseman Xavier Scruggs, who played with Hatley in Memphis, said Hatley is capable of compensating for the loss of Belisle.
“Hatley, first of all, is a great dude,” Scruggs said. “He’s got a great arsenal as a pitcher. He really knows how to go out there and get the job done. He throws a lot of strikes. He’s a guy you definitely want on your side. He keeps the hitters off-balanced. As a defensive player, he makes it that much out there on you, and he gets his strikeouts. He’s a good, all-around reliever.”