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Cardinals recall Fick, option Salas to Minors

ST. LOUIS -- You couldn't wipe the smile off Cardinals reliever Chuckie Fick's face on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm very, very excited to be here today," Fick said.

The 26-year-old rookie right-hander got the call a day earlier that he would be going to the Major Leagues for the first time.

Fick was added to the St. Louis bullpen mix on Saturday, with struggling reliever Fernando Salas sent down to Triple-A Memphis to open up the roster spot. He made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Phillies. Fick retired the first batter he faced, allowed a single then got the final two outs on a sacrifice bunt and a flyout to center field.

"I was more nervous my first outing in Spring Training this year, but it was surreal," Fick said after the game. "It's the most amazing thing I've ever done."

Fick, a 15th-round selection by the Cardinals in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was 1-0 with two saves and a 3.86 ERA in 21 innings over 21 appearances for Memphis this season. He allowed 19 hits, with 10 strikeouts and seven walks. Opponents hit .241 against him.

"I've been doing quite well down there," Fick said. "... I kind of lost my slider the first month of the season, but working with [pitcher] Adam Reifer and [Memphis pitching coach] Blaise [Ilsley], I got it back in the last week or so. Everything's been down in the zone, so hopefully I can continue to do that here."

Fick went 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 54 appearances for Memphis in 2011, and was a combined 5-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 32 appearances, six starts, between Memphis and Double-A Springfield in 2010.

"My first year, I had a rough time in Memphis," Fick said. "I really went up there and learned a lot. I sat in the bullpen with [reliever] Josh Kinney for half the year and that helped me immensely. Last year, I had a pretty good year and I saw guys go up and down. Of course I'm happy for them. I just kept telling myself I had to wait my turn. Last year, I got onto the 40-man. I tried to replicate what I did last year, and I knew my time would come."

Asked to provide a scouting report on himself, Fick said: "I'm funky. I'm 88-91-92 miles per hour. Sinker. Slider. Change. Low three-quarter [delivery]. I'm funky. I throw across my body. I'm a different look."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny described Fick as a ground-ball pitcher who can get a double play and eat some innings.

"He hasn't been overworked in Memphis," Matheny said. "A pretty good live arm to bring in. Any time we get a new fresh arm, we can take a little pressure off the other guys. He's been traditionally a good strike thrower, and when we look at some of the problems we've had in the 'pen, it's from working behind. Those things catch up with you."

Chuckie Fick, Fernando Salas