By Mike Bailey, Baseball writer
Kevin Siegrist has been pitching for nearly two weeks with mononucleosis, a diagnosis that was confirmed Thursday with a blood test.
“It is amazing what he was able to do (during that period before diagnosis). He started feeling poorly on that off day (June 17). He thought it might be allergies and then he thought he was in the sun too long. He said he had weakness and chills,” said Cards manager Mike Matheny Friday.
“It was a weird process. One day he was weak, then he was a little better. I give credit to our training staff for (figuring it out). Now, he needs some rest. It’s a relief to know what it is.” Matheny said Siegrist might go home to Florida until after the All-Star break when he is expected to rejoin the team. He said Siegrist had not been sleeping well and his lingering illness was a concern to the team and the staff.
He was also asked if other players would be tested for mononucleosis since it is a highly communicable and debilitating illness. Matheny said he did not think it had risen to that level and said universal blood testing was not the normal protocol. But he said the staff would be on high alert for any similar symptoms in other players.
Siegrist was one of three relievers manager Mike Matheny said he would consider in save opportunities as he mixes and matches his relief pitchers to situations. Siegrist has a 2.78 ERA in 35 appearances for St. Louis this season.
To replace Siegrist, the Cardinals recalled Sam Tuivailala from Memphis. Tuivailala was named to the Class AAA All-Star Game earlier this week. He had a 5.06 ERA in 29 games with the Redbirds, a misleading stat since his season started with a couple of poor outings but has stabilized since then. He converted 13 of 16 save opportunities and struck out 48 over 32 innings. Tuivailala made 14 big league appearances in 2015.
“He got himself into some situations (at Memphis),” Matheny said. “And got himself out of them. He answered the bell. He is throwing his cutter with confidence.”
Matheny also said Siegrist’s absence might vault Tyler Lyons into some higher-pressure situations.
In other news, Aledmys Diaz will start at shortstop in tonight’s ballgame, now nearly fully recovered from a foul ball that hit him in the eye off his own bat. Matheny said Diaz probably could have pinch hit yesterday but he did not want the 25-year-old to face a closer if there was any chance his vision was still impaired.
Stephen Piscotty is also nearly ready to return, but could use one more day off, Matheny said. He is available to pinch hit tonight.
The Cardinals (40-38) send Jaime Garcia (5-6, 4.09) to face the Matt Garza (1-0, 2.81) and the Milwaukee Brewers (35-43) at 7:15 p.m. for the first of a three-game series.
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