Tejada returns from DL for utility role

Hot-hitting Diaz to remain starting shortstop; G. Garcia sent to Triple-A

April 18th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- Ruben Tejada, who woke up on the final day of March sitting atop the Cardinals' shortstop depth chart, rejoined the team on Monday but with no assurance on how much playing time awaits.

The Cardinals activated Tejada from the 15-day disabled list after the 26-year-old infielder went 3-for-9 in three Minor League rehab games with Double-A Springfield. His return bumped infielder Greg Garcia down to Triple-A Memphis, but it does not immediately displace Aledmys Diaz from the lineup.

With Jhonny Peralta likely out until at least June while recovering from thumb surgery, Diaz has seized an opening and put a stranglehold on the starting shortstop job. Since joining the Cardinals on April 4, Diaz entered Monday batting .406 (13-for-32) with eight extra-base hits and eight RBIs. He's hit safely in six of his seven starts, collecting multiple hits in four of those games. And even with Tejada back on the roster for the series opener against the Cubs, it was Diaz who drew another start.

"The kid has done a great job," Matheny said. "That's part of the conversation, even with a Greg Garcia, to say ... 'The door opened for Diaz, and what's there not to like about what he's done?' That was something that we didn't necessarily anticipate. But he can play. He's done a great job and will continue to get opportunities."

If Diaz continues to get the bulk of the shortstop starts, Tejada, whom the Cardinals signed in mid-March as shortstop insurance, will slide into the backup utility infielder role Garcia had previously plugged. Tejada profiles as a better defensive infielder than Garcia, though the Cards could miss Garcia's presence off the bench. He was 6-for-10 this season, after going 9-for-26 (.346) as a pinch-hitter last year.

"I told him that he did everything we asked and hoped that he would do," Matheny said. "He understands the point where he is in his career and the kind of team we have right now."

Garcia will move around a bit defensively with Memphis, though most of his time is expected to come at short.

Worth noting

• Tommy Pham said he added medicine-ball tosses to his workouts on Monday as he continues to work his way back from a left oblique strain. Barring any setbacks, Pham anticipates swinging a bat this week for the first time since the Opening Day injury.

• The Cardinals will release a limited number of $6 tickets to their upcoming home series against the Phillies (May 2-4) and Rockies (May 17-19) at 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday. While supplies last, those tickets can be purchased at cardinals.com/papajohns.

• The Cardinals announced that they will host their seventh-annual Green Week from April 29-May 3 at and around Busch Stadium. Additional details regarding events planned for the week can be found at cardinals.com/greenweek. The organization will also celebrate Earth Day on Friday by holding an electronics recycling and general donation drive in the Lot C parking lot across from the ballpark.