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Lopez nears return, what does that mean for Ryan?

Disabled utilityman Felipe Lopez is on the verge of being reactivated -- it could come as soon as today, according to the Cardinals.

It will be interesting to see what that means for the roster. But, no matter how manager Tony La Russa plans to deploy Lopez, his offensive imput is sorely needed.

It could come at shortstop where Brendan Ryan continues to suffer through a season-long slump and has sunk to a .163 batting average. It could be at second Skip Schumaker isn't doing much better at .230, although Schu has shown some signs of slowing climbing out of his funk. It could be off the bench as a pinch hitter...

If Schumaker continues to show signs of improvement, he should be left alone. Schumaker has proven to be a slow starter the last couple of seasons and has rebounded to hit .300 or so each time. While the Cardinals could always use some pinch hitting help, Nick Stavinoha has latched onto the top slugger off the bench with a .379 batting average in limited exposure.

The obvious answer is to play Lopez at short to give Ryan a chance to either totally disconnect with an extended break, then to start over. But will Lopez's sore arm hold up with the long throws a shortstop has to make? Will his poor range at short hurt the Cardinals more than his offense helps the team?

I wonder, at this point, if the Cardinals are contemplating shipping Ryan to Memphis to work out his kinks. I'm not sure if hitting against lesser pitchers would be the answer to give him a jump start. The blow to his confidence and isolation from the major league coaching staff could be counterproductive.

I'd like to see the Cardinals keep Ryan away from the plate for four or five days just to refresh his mind set and try to break the bad habits he's developed this season.