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Cardinals promote Huffman, option Gant

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

CINCINNATI -- Overjoyed upon learning that longtime friend Chad Huffman received an invitation back to the Majors on Wednesday, Matt Carpenter hoped that he wouldn't be the only one rejuvenated by the news.

"These kind of moments are refreshing for everybody, not just myself," Carpenter said, shortly before the Cardinals took the field trying to snap a five-game losing streak. "But when you see a guy like this, it can bring an energy to the club. Hopefully, it's something our club needs. We could all use a breath of fresh air around here."

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CINCINNATI -- Overjoyed upon learning that longtime friend Chad Huffman received an invitation back to the Majors on Wednesday, Matt Carpenter hoped that he wouldn't be the only one rejuvenated by the news.

"These kind of moments are refreshing for everybody, not just myself," Carpenter said, shortly before the Cardinals took the field trying to snap a five-game losing streak. "But when you see a guy like this, it can bring an energy to the club. Hopefully, it's something our club needs. We could all use a breath of fresh air around here."

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Huffman was scheduled to arrive at Great American Ball Park right around game time Wednesday, just hours after being scratched from the Triple-A Memphis lineup. The Cardinals had an open spot for him on the 40-man roster, and they made space on the active roster by optioning right-hander John Gant to Memphis.

Gant, who threw 61 pitches in 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday, had no other appearances during his week-long stay with the Cardinals. The move reduced the team's pitching staff to 12 for the first time since April 20.

"I think more than anything else, we had so many guys down there [in the bullpen] that we haven't been able to use," manager Mike Matheny said of the altered roster composition.

Flexibility was cited as one of the driving factors in the decision to pluck Huffman from Memphis. Not only does he offer defensive versatility as a first baseman and corner outfielder, but the Cardinals also see him as capable of sliding into a bench role. Huffman's stay may be brief depending on what the Cardinals want to do when Kolten Wong comes off the disabled list later this week.

"I think it's a guy who comes in and understands his role," Matheny said. "He's been swinging the bat well. He's versatile in the fact that he can kind of play a little bit of everywhere. [He gives] a professional at-bat [and] understands we have a lot of moving parts right now."

Huffman, 32, hasn't been in the Majors since debuting in 2010. He appeared in nine games for the Yankees that year. He signed a Minor League contract with St. Louis over the offseason and was batting .292/.407/.508 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 43 games for Memphis this season.

He had a particularly strong month of May, batting .317 with a .469 on-base percentage. The latter was tied for the highest in all of Triple-A.

Carpenter has followed it all. He and Huffman grew up together, playing on the same high school team (coached by Carpenter's father, Rick) and at Texas Christian University. Carpenter was among those who, when Huffman was ready to quit baseball a few years ago, convinced him to stick with it a bit longer. He was also one of the first to receive a call from Huffman on Wednesday afternoon.

"To now be Major League teammates, it's a dream come true for him and for us, and there are so many people excited," Carpenter said. "It's quite a thrill. You're talking about a guy who has played 11 years in the Minor Leagues and really grinded to this moment.

"I'm super proud of him, super happy for him. I can't wait to see him. It's going to be refreshing."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

St. Louis Cardinals, John Gant, Chad Huffman