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Birds call up Valdez, demote Cleto

The Cardinals bullpen merry-go-round spun again today when the club called up Memphis lefty Raul Valdez and sent hard throwing righthander Mikael Cleto back to Class AA Springfield.

Valdez, who has performed very well lately in Class AAA, was not on the 40-man roster. So the Cardinals used the slot opened up when they cut loose Miguel Batista to fit him into their currently plans.

Although his numbers look scary -- 5-2 with a 5.05 ERA so far this season in Memphis -- he seems to have found his niche lately.

In his last 10 apperances, Valdez has allowed four hits over 12 1/3 innings and he is sporting a 0.73 ERA. He's been fantastic since being moved to the bullpen following a rough start to the season in the rotation.

Valdez was 2-2 with a 7.13 ERA as a starter. As a bullpenner, he's 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA. He's not a typical LOOGY. Valdez usually pitches an inning or two at a time and holds righties to a .254 batting average while lefties have hit .274 against him. It's difficult to say how that will play out in a major league lefty relief role, however, because those numbers include his rough patch as a starter.

He's no spring chicken -- Valdez is 33 -- but he might give the St. Louis bullpen a more reliable option against both lefty and righty batters in the short term.

The Cardinals also announced Thursday that David Kopp was removed from the 40-man roster to bring Brian Augenstein off the 60-man DL.