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Ryan demoted from starting shortstop

In the grips of a season-long slump, Cardinals infielder Brendan Ryan has lost his job of being the team's starting shortstop.

Ryan, hitting .163 with little evidence that he is about to break out of his hitting woes, will get spot duty until he sorts his trouble out, manager Tony La Russa announced Sunday in a report on the Cardinals' website.

The announcement could change the Cardinals plans of how to manipulate the roster to make room for disabled utilityman Felipe Lopez who could be activated as soon as Monday.

It was figured by many that Tyler Greene would be the man to be sent to Class AAA Memphis. But if Ryan can't be counted on at short, then I'm guessing an outfielder is more likely to go. Possibly Joe Mather, who is struggling to hit .200 or Jon Jay who is hitting .300 in a very small number of at bats.

Both Mather and Jay can play centerfield. But the re-emergence of Lopez might free up second baseman Skip Schumaker to play some outfield, too. Schumaker was thought to be anchored at second base in his second season on the infield. But he is also struggling with the bat and could lose playing time if Lopez hits well in his return.

Ryan is out of options and he would be unlikely to clear waivers because of the way he played last season. It's hard to say if the team would risk such a move with few other shortstop options in the system. But La Russa didn't have a lot of patience with Ryan previous to last season. This latest flake out could be the last straw.