ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are hopeful that their weary and battered bullpen will enjoy a boost after Thursday's off-day as well as from the return of right-hander Matt Bowman, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday.Bowman's return was one in a series of moves the Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are hopeful that their weary and battered bullpen will enjoy a boost after Thursday's off-day as well as from the return of right-hander Matt Bowman, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday.
Bowman's return was one in a series of moves the Cardinals made ahead of their series opener against the Cubs, a 13-5 loss in which Bowman struck out two in a one-inning relief appearance. The club also placed starting first baseman Jose Martinez on paternity leave so that he could be present at his daughter's birth in Venezuela. First baseman Luke Voit was summoned to take Martinez's spot during the three-day absence, and righty Daniel Poncedeleon was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to clear a bullpen spot for Bowman.
Bowman last pitched on May 16, after which he was sidelined by blisters on two fingers on his right hand. Leading up to that point, opponents had knocked him for a .309 batting average and .937 OPS. Manager Mike Matheny suggested that Bowman will slide back into the familiar role of being called upon when the club needs assistance maneuvering out of a jam.
"You have a guy that can come in in the middle of an inning, and it seems like he almost pitches better," Matheny said. "That's a rare quality to have. He comes in and gets a ground ball in big situations. He's always one of the guys that you know you can count on."
As for Martinez, the Cardinals expect to have him back in uniform for Monday's game in Philadelphia, despite the complicated travel to and from Venezuela. While Martinez is away, Voit is likely to see substantial playing time. Voit drew his first start of the season on Friday against Cubs lefty starter Jonathan Lester and is likely to start again on Sunday, when Chicago starts another left-hander, Jose Quintana.
• Shortstop Paul DeJong will have a CT scan on his left hand on Saturday to determine whether it has healed enough for him to begin hitting. As he waits for that clearance, he continues to take dry swings and participate in fielding/conditioning work.
General manager Michael Girsch said the Cardinals are optimistic that the remainder of DeJong's recovery -- which will include a rehab assignment -- will "move pretty quickly."
• Reliever Greg Holland (right hip impingement) continued his rehab work with a one-inning appearance for Double-A Springfield on Friday. He took the loss after allowing a home run in one inning of relief. Holland is scheduled to pitch for Springfield again on Saturday before returning to St. Louis, at which time the Cardinals will re-evaluate his status.
In three previous Minor League rehab appearances with Triple-A Memphis, Holland allowed three runs on three hits and four walks.
• Relievers Tyler Lyons (strained left elbow) and Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement/right knee surgery) both plan to begin throwing programs next week, according to Girsch.
• Adam Wainwright had a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his right elbow earlier this week. He's not expected to begin a throwing program until at least July.
Father's Day festivities
For the third consecutive year, the Cardinals will wear specially designed light-blue caps on Father's Day as part of Major League Baseball's efforts to raise awareness of prostate cancer. Sunday's uniforms will be adorned with blue ribbons, and players will have the option of donning other pieces of blue apparel, including wristbands, compression sleeves, batting gloves, footwear, wrist/elbow/leg guards and catchers' equipment.
MLB is encouraging fans to join the "Home Run Challenge," which has raised nearly $50 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation since its inception. Fans can make a one-time monetary donation or pledge a donation for every home run hit by a team from June 1-17. More than $1.85 million has already been pledged this month.
MLB.com and its clubs will also be highlighting stories of fathers and sons throughout the day on Sunday using the social media hashtag #MLBDads.
• With 24 more players agreeing to terms, the Cardinals have signed nine of their top 10 picks from the 2018 Draft. The Cardinals also reached an agreement with right-hander Tommy Parsons, an undrafted free agent out of Adrian College (Michigan).
• Jason Motte, who announced his retirement after he did not earn a spot on the Cardinals' Major League roster this spring, has been hired as the director of player development for the University of Memphis baseball team.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.