Kevin Siegrist was placed on the 15-day disabled list with mononucleosis on Friday, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals with one left-handed reliever.
The Cardinals recalled right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala from Class AAA Memphis to replace Siegrist. The move is retroactive to Thursday, since Siegrist last pitched Wednesday. Siegrist is 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 35 games.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Siegrist had been feeling weak since June 16, and the diagnosis Friday explained the reason for it.
“It’s amazing that he was able to do what he was doing,” Matheny said. “He had a number of tests and (doctors) didn’t pick that up until blood tests. Everything else was coming back pretty negative. He was able to do his job. Fortunately, we were able to detect it and we’re able to give him some rest.
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“The more he can relax and rest, the quicker he’s going to be able to get over this. There may be a chance he goes back home (to Florida). We’re fine with that. We just need to get him away from here and off his feet to give him a chance to get back to feeling good.”
Siegrist’s unavailability for the next two weeks leaves the Cardinals with one left-hander in their bullpen, Tyler Lyons. Siegrist, though, wasn’t a left-handed specialist since his splits indicate he’s more effective against right-handed batters.
Right-handed batters are hitting .177 against Siegrist. Left-handed hitters are batting .182 against him, but own higher on-base and slugging percentages.
Matheny said Lyons will be placed in some “high-leverage situations.”
“But we still have three guys for (innings) seven, eight and nine,” Matheny said, referring to Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Rosenthal and Seung Hwan Oh. “Those are three great options for us. We’ve always kind of been in flux with those other innings anyhow. We’ve got an opportunity to bring Sam in now and get him into the mix.”
Tuivailala, 23, was 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 29 games for the Redbirds. He converted 13 of 16 save opportunities and struck out 48 batters in 32 innings. He was 8-for-10 in save opportunities in June, recording 20 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. Tuivailala’s cutter has continued to improve and reports are he is throwing it more regularly.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Tuivailala is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in 16 career games with the Cardinals between 2014 and 2015. He will wear No. 64.
“I see the reports every night,” Matheny said. “He’s had some really good outings. He’s had some times where he’s gotten himself into trouble and pitched himself out. He’s had times he’s been put in there in tough situations and worked through it. I think he’s continuing to improve.”
Stephen Piscotty didn’t start for the second consecutive game, but the hard-hitting right fielder was cleared for full-time duty.
“It feels really good,” Piscotty said of his left ankle, injured Wednesday. “It’s still pretty nasty looking and swollen, but I’ve got all my movement pretty much back and there’s still a pad on there. It should be fine. I’m ready to roll. I knew it wasn’t going to be a long thing.”
Matheny, however, implemented the Tony La Russa rule: When a previously injured player is cleared to return, give him one extra day.
“I think that definitely played with (Aledmys) Diaz (on Thursday),” Matheny said. “He was close, but there were still some things that were not quite right. Giving him one more day was helpful. With Stephen, just getting on top of some of these things can end up paying dividends later on down the road.
“The swelling’s down, the pain’s down and he’ll be an option late in the game.”
Diaz batted second and played shortstop. He still has redness in his right eye and swelling and discoloration around it, but no other obvious issues. Diaz was injured Monday when he fouled a ball that bounced up and drilled him in the eye.
“I’m very excited to go out and compete,” Diaz said. “I just want to go out and help the team to win. If I can see, I can compete. (The vision) is getting better and the swelling is gone a little bit.”
Loss that lingers
The Cardinals’ 4-2 loss to Kansas City on Thursday didn’t sit well with Matheny or the players. Matheny digested it longer than usual, given the sloppy nature of the game that included him being ejected by plate umpire Mike Everitt.
St. Louis committed three errors, and could have been charged with another, threw two wild pitches and was unable to capitalize on a shaky outing by Kansas City pitcher Chris Young, who walked six in four innings.
At the same time, the Cardinals wasted a strong performance by Mike Leake and mustered a paltry three hits, two of them homers by Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta.
“I stayed in my office a little longer and sat in my chair a little longer,” Matheny said. “Those are the ones ... where I have trouble getting it out of my system. They all hurt, but ones that feel like we took away from ourselves usually sting a little worse. I know the guys felt the same way. You could sense it all the way through.
“Wins are so hard to come by at any point in the season, especially against good teams. When you hurt yourself, those are hard to swallow.”
Everitt tossed Matheny when Matheny objected to the umpires allowing Kansas City manager Ned Yost to challenge a call after the Cardinals already had left the field. St. Louis’ double play was overturned, and the Cardinals had to return to the field and record one more out.
Matheny said he received a note from Everitt on Friday.
“He said something along the lines, ‘It’s pretty amazing you can get that mad and not use profanity,’” Matheny said. “He said that’s a rare skill. I’m glad I didn’t say anything that I regret.
“It was one of those days, too, where I was mad about plenty of things. That was the icing.”
Matheny said he talked Friday to Joe Torre in the commissioner’s office. Matheny intimated that umpires might be told to begin keeping a closer eye on situations like the one that surfaced Thursday, perhaps refusing to review a play after the team in the field already is in the dugout.