St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals option Tuivailala to Triple-A Memphis; Molina returns to lineup

Promising rookie Sam Tuivailala was a roster casualty Tuesday when the St. Louis Cardinals activated left-hander Jaime Garcia from the disabled list so he could start against Cincinnati.

Tuivailala, optioned to Class AAA Memphis, figures to be heard from again this season, as the Cardinals were impressed by eight consecutive scoreless innings, including seven this month.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Tuivailala (0-1, 1.80 ERA) was squeezed out of the late-inning mix by the acquisition Friday of Steve Cishek from the Miami Marlins.

“When you bring in Cishek, you’re talking about considerable innings taken in the back end in kind of the situations we were using ‘Tui,’” Matheny said. “We anticipate that he can be that guy, but he still needs to develop and there’s still some things he needs to work on.

“But he’s done a nice job. He’s very much improved. There’s still some work to do. Right now, we hate to see him sit back here where he’s behind (Trevor) Rosenthal, (Kevin) Siegrist, Cishek, (Seth) Maness and potentially (Jordan) Walden, and not getting the opportunity to get better. He needs to pitch.”

Tuivailala also was behind Carlos Villanueva and Miguel Socolovich on the depth chart, both of whom are capable of throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Matheny said Tuivailala has been using a cutter with more regularity during July, and it’s a pitch with potential. Some time in Memphis will enable Tuivailala to hone the pitch, which can be a major weapon for him at the big-league level and complement an upper-90s fastball.

“That (pitch) comes with feel and repetition,” Matheny said of the cutter. “So I think to not have him on the mound consistently is doing him a disservice.

“It was a different style of pitching when he came back (to St. Louis) this time because of incorporating that cutter and still having the 99 and 100 (mph fastball) when he could use it.”

Molina OK

All-Star catcher Yadier Molina left the game in the fifth inning Monday when he began feeling sick to his stomach. Molina was fine after the game and was in the lineup Tuesday.

A foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the first inning hit Molina in the mask. Molina began feeling steadily worse before being replaced by Tony Cruz. Molina passed all concussion tests.

“He’s good,” said Matheny, adding that Molina also was impacted by the heat. “We’re just making sure he’s going overboard with hydrating before the game, but he felt good. Getting the IVs and getting the doctor’s good look at him seemed to be a big help.

“The concussion stuff is serious. It was good we had doctors on hand and the tests available. They gave us quick results and let us know he was going to be all right.”

Grichuk, Heyward out

Randal Grichuk missed a second straight start with a right groin injury. Peter Bourjos started in center. Jason Heyward received an off day, replaced in right field by Stephen Piscotty.

“It’s getting better,” Matheny said of Grichuk’s injury. “We’ll find out later if he will be available during the game, but one more day of being real cautious with him.”

Piscotty has started at first base, left field and right field since joining the Cardinals on July 21.

“I know there’s been talk about center,” Matheny said. “We personally haven’t seen it, and actually I haven’t talked that much with (Memphis manager) Mike Shildt about it. It’s more about the corners. Our main concern when we brought him up was how comfortable (he) was at first base. He had his chance out there and looked fine.

“Center field is something we haven’t spent that much time talking with him about, mostly because we have some coverage out there. We’ll continue to push him and work him all over the field. I think his versatility is something that’s leading to more opportunities for him.”

It was a good game to rest Heyward, considering he is 0-for-13 with three strikeouts in his career against Cincinnati starter Mike Leake.

No hitting on field

Matheny didn’t require players to report to Busch Stadium until 4 p.m. Tuesday and there was no hitting on the field, a conciliation to the heat and humidity.

“It’s cooled off a little bit (from) what it was earlier,” Matheny said. “(Monday) was a good reminder, too, when our most durable guy (Molina) and the guy who has had the most experience here all of a sudden this heat sneaks up on him. It’s a good reminder to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. ... We’re going to keep our eyes open all the time.”

  Comments