The Cardinals find themselves in yet another rough patch in their season, and have made a bevy of changes before Sunday night's contest against the Pirates.
Randal Grichuk, Mike Mayers, and Luke Voit have all been called up to St. Louis from the Memphis Redbirds. Corresponding with these moves, Dexter Fowler (right heel spur) and Kevin Siegrist (cervical spine sprain) have been placed on the 10-Day DL. Siegrist is retroactive to June 23rd. Additionally, Chad Huffman has been optioned back to Memphis after going 4 for 14 at the plate in a short stint with St. Louis.
Fowler's injury is perhaps the most alarming, as general manager John Mozeliak believes it's been the root cause of both leg injuries for the center fielder this season.
"It does sound like it could be chronic, at this time," he said. "How you manage it, I think, is critical."
While the medical team doesn't believe the injury itself is particularly severe, the ability for it to recur or cause a cascade of related injuries if mismanaged, is worrisome.
Fowler felt significant pain when tracking down a fly ball in Saturday's game, and gave disheartening news to the team after the game.
"He came in and I think his exact quote was, 'I don’t have a leg to stand on.' So, that’s concerning," Mozeliak said.
Fowler will undergo a battery of exams Sunday and the team expects to have a clear picture of what they're dealing with Monday. There are some treatment options, but rest will certainly play a major role in whatever plan the Cardinals have him.
Siegrist's injury was described as 'instability' in his neck, and like Fowler, will undergo a handful of exams Sunday as the team tries to gather information.
"I think it’s one of those things where he’s probably just going to have to pitch with it. But at least doing these studies will give us an idea of if we are on the right path for treatment," Mozeliak said.
Grichuk returns after a stint in the minor leagues where he was tasked with improving his plate discipline, but wound up falling into the feast or famine tendencies for which he is typically known. His six home runs in his last ten games and his .273/.324/.621 batting line while in the minors have facilitated his return, but his K:BB ratio of 20:4 indicates that Grichuk is the same player he was when he left St. Louis a few weeks ago. With Fowler ailing, Grichuk will have a chance to earn regular playing time in his stead; Sunday night, Grichuk will play left field and bat cleanup.
Mayers is 5-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts for Memphis, and appears to be the replacement for Siegrist in the bullpen–unless the Cardinals want to shuffle Michael Wacha into a new role before his upcoming start. If Mayers appears in Sunday's game, it will be his second career appearance on Sunday Night Baseball–the first being his maligned MLB debut last season against the Dodgers.
Voit gets his first crack at big-league action, and will presumably fill a similar role to the one Chad Huffman departs. Voit has displayed proficiency at the plate at every level of the minors, and boasted a .322/.406/.561 batting line in Memphis this season before receiving the call Sunday.