St. Louis Cardinals

Garcia to be activated Tuesday or Wednesday; neck still bothering Piscotty

Pitcher Jaime Garcia will be activated Tuesday, or perhaps Wednesday, and make a start against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium.

Garcia, on the disabled list with a strained left groin, told the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday that one minor-league rehab start, made Thursday for low-Class A Peoria, would be enough to get him ready to rejoin the rotation. The Cardinals agreed, noting the ease with which Garcia worked through five scoreless, no-hit innings.

“We’re never going to shy away from the fact – and have been very clear that when he’s right and he’s healthy – we want him on the mound,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s got the capability of doing some pretty impressive things every time he’s on the mound. We’re going to keep pushing it as much as he can, and most of it came back to the fact that he felt very good after his start and the results were there, the velocity was there. Let’s go.”

Matheny indicated that Garcia would have a pitch limitation. He threw 58 pitches, 41 for strikes, against Clinton, walking none, striking out six and hitting a batter.

“We don’t have a firm number to give you right now, but it’s something we’ll keep an eye on,” Matheny said.

Garcia will replace Tim Cooney in the rotation. Cooney, who posted his first career victory Friday in his sixth major-league start, was optioned to Class AAA Memphis on Saturday when the Cardinals added Steve Chisek to their bullpen.

Cooney’s demotion and Cishek’s arrival temporarily gives the Cardinals four starters and eight relievers. They will make another move when Garcia is activated.

Cooney was aware Friday after beating Atlanta 4-2 that he could be on his way back to Memphis. But Matheny said Cooney should return to Memphis with the comforting knowledge he did everything the Cardinals expected.

“We tried to explain it to Tim that every start he’s had, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him,” Matheny said. “But still, the reality is that the five guys that we have when Jaime is right, the only opportunity we have is to have him in the bullpen. And to us, he’s proven that he can start. We have to have somebody ready in case something else happens.”

Matheny said Cooney’s up-and-down status between the majors and the minors is “part of being a young player.”

“It doesn’t always make sense,” he said. “But he gets it. He sees the numbers. He gets the fact that when Jaime is right, he’s going to be in there. But we’ve been very honest with him that he did nothing but impress us. He certainly moved up on our way that we evaluate and how the rest of the league evaluates as well. He’s really shown well. What he needs to do is go back and continue to improve and figure out how to be ready in case we do need somebody.”

Piscotty comes through

Rookie outfielder and first baseman Stephen Piscotty’s stiff neck was better Saturday, but still had not improved enough to get his first start at Busch Stadium.

Piscotty did feel well enough to pinch-hit in the eighth, and his sacrifice fly against Luis Avilan scored pinch-runner Pete Kozma and gave the Cardinals a 1-0 win over Atlanta.

“I was preparing two innings ahead,” Piscotty said. “I got up there and had a good plan and just tried to execute. The scouting report was right on. It was perfect and it helped me execute. I was just ecstatic. It was a good moment.”

Piscotty, whose contract was purchased Tuesday from Class AAA Memphis, was in the lineup at first base Thursday against Kansas City, but was scratched because of the neck issue.

“The neck is still getting right,” Matheny said. “Also, I think we’re liking what we’ve seen from some of the at-bats with Mark Reynolds, too. That’s a push.

“We’re going to maybe try to ease (Piscotty) in, give him some innings at first base, not push that too much. He’s still learning so much. This is a tough place to learn. We want him to get his at-bats, too. Unfortunately, his neck tightened up on him and it didn’t allow for the couple of opportunities we were going to give him.”

Piscotty said his neck has improved.

“It’s not 100 percent, but it’s a lot better,” he said.

Reyes debuts

Right-hander Alex Reyes, the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect, made his first start for Class AA Springfield on Saturday against Northwest Arkansas.

Reyes, 20, raised in New Jersey but signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, worked four innings, yielding one run (earned) on two hits. He walked one and struck out five in a 64-pitch performance.

Reliever Mitch Harris, on the disabled list with a strained right groin, threw one scoreless inning for Memphis on Saturday.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 618-239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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