Cardinals option Nootbaar to Memphis, recall Brendan Donovan

Donovan has a batting line of .298/.385/.404 with eight walks and eight strikeouts in 65 plate appearances at Triple-A this season.
St. Louis Cardinals' Lars Nootbaar (68) celebrates with Tommy Edman after, left, after hitting...
St. Louis Cardinals' Lars Nootbaar (68) celebrates with Tommy Edman after, left, after hitting a two-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher JT Brubaker during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)(Gene J. Puskar | AP)
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 3:38 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The Cardinals announced a roster move ahead of Monday’s series opener at Busch Stadium against the Mets, sending outfielder Lars Nootbaar down to Triple-A Memphis and replacing him on the active roster with infielder Brendan Donovan.

The 25-year-old Donovan has seen time defensively at first, second and third base as well as in left-field so far this season for the Memphis Redbirds and should bring an added element of defensive versatility to the big-league bench in St. Louis. Donovan has also handled himself well at the plate this season, compiling a batting line of .298/.385/.404 with eight walks and eight strikeouts in 65 plate appearances. His .788 OPS in Triple-A this season is a solid follow-up to the .941 OPS he posted last autumn in the Arizona Fall League, where he asserted himself as a prospect worthy of consideration in the Cardinals’ system.

For the 24-year-old Nootbaar, Monday’s demotion is an unceremonious transition back to the minors that the tea leaves might have predicted. Nootbaar had recorded just two hits in 16 at-bats for St. Louis this season as he never really received the playing time to find an adequate rhythm.

Nootbaar drew just three sporadic starts over the Cardinals’ first 14 games, ceding time in the designated hitter role to spring signing and fellow left-handed hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson. On paper, it seemed the Cardinals might enter the season with Dickerson and Nootbaar splitting the fourth outfielder duties with both logging regular starts as the designated hitter against right-handed pitching. As it’s played out over the first few weeks of the season, however, Dickerson has commanded more of the playing time in a DH timeshare that has also seen Albert Pujols draw a number of plate appearances.

A strong start to the season for Pujols against left-handed pitching--he has a .500 average with a double and two homers in 13 plate appearances--has bled into the 42-year-old slugger receiving somewhat frequent opportunities against righties, as well. Though hasn’t fared well in those chances (1-for-14 for an .071 batting average), the fact that Cardinals’ manager Oli Marmol has granted them has meant fewer playing opportunities for Nootbaar.

Though Dickerson has also struggled at the plate through the early portion of the schedule, batting just .174 with no extra-base hits in 26 plate appearances, only one of the two left-handed hitting outfielders had any minor-league options remaining. That was Nootbaar. The other, Dickerson, has a $5 million contract.

So the Cardinals are content for now to let Dickerson see more at-bats to allow the 10-year MLB veteran the chance to find his stroke and make good on the value proposition to which St. Louis agreed when it signed him to a one-year deal during spring training.

As for Nootbaar, he’ll find regular playing time in the Memphis lineup as he stays ready for that next call-up to St. Louis, which will likely come down the line later this season.