Cards summon Garcia, Scruggs from Triple-A
With young infield duo determined to contribute, club welcomes flexibility
PHILADELPHIA -- Xavier Scruggs and Greg Garcia might still be rookies, but they aren't wide-eyed kids only in the Majors to soak up the experience.
"This isn't about getting my feet wet anymore," said Garcia, ranked by MLB.com as the Cardinals' No. 20 prospect. "Now it's about producing for this team and trying to help out, and that's what I'm here to do."
The Cardinals called up Garcia and Scruggs from Triple-A Memphis before Friday's 12-4 win over the Phillies, filling the roster spots left behind by catcher Ed Easley and relief pitcher Mitch Harris, both of whom the club optioned to Memphis. Garcia, a middle infielder, and Scruggs, a first baseman, earned their callups after successful Triple-A stints and as a result of their positional versatility and Major League experience.
Garcia played in 14 games with the Cardinals in 2014 before returning to Triple-A for the 2015 campaign, during which he batted .313 with 25 RBIs and 31 walks. Scruggs logged one big league at-bat this year before heading back to Memphis, where he led all Redbirds in home runs with 11.
Though he's listed as a first baseman, Scruggs also worked as an outfielder while in the Minors, a position he said he feels comfortable playing with his new club as well. When compounded with Garcia's ability to play both second base and shortstop, these two callups afford the Cardinals more options than they had with Easley and Harris.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that the decisions to send down Easley and Harris weren't particularly difficult, because he believes they will both be back with the club. Speaking specifically about Harris, Matheny said he sees this stint in the Minors as an opportunity for growth.
"For his development, he's not necessarily a young player, but experience-wise he's a young player, and he still has room to grow," Matheny said. "You're only going to get that if you're able to pitch."
Though they didn't start, Garcia and Scruggs both saw playing time Friday as pinch-hitters and defensive replacements. Garcia impressed, going 2-for-2 with two singles. He also threw out Cesar Hernandez on a ground ball hit his way in the eighth inning and caught a Jeff Francoeur line drive in the ninth inning as a second baseman.
Scruggs struck out looking in his one at-bat but played two innings of first base and recorded two outs on balls thrown to him by Garcia and third baseman Mark Reynolds.
"This is a good start," Garcia said. "It's something to build off. But the most important thing is that we won today's game."
Matheny was proud of how Garcia played in particular, saying he was glad to have the opportunity to insert the rookie into the game.
"A lot of times you bring up these young guys, and we're locked in these tight games and you go a significant amount of time without really showing what they've been doing," Matheny said. "He was our Minor League Player of the Month last month, and he's on a good roll, so it's nice to see him while he's hot and get a couple of good at-bats."
Scruggs said he feels pinch-hitting is one of his main roles as a Cardinal.
"That's something that I'll always keep picking [my teammates'] brains about and just try to continue to get better at that part of my game, because I know it's going to be huge here," Scruggs said. "I'll lean on all of these guys."
As for making more of his opportunities in the Majors this time than last time, Scruggs agreed with Garcia; this is no longer the time to sit back and watch. Having been up before, Scruggs said he knows what it takes to succeed.
"That takes away a little bit of the nervousness and adds a little bit more confidence, just knowing that you've had the opportunity to be up here," he said. "Now it's just time to go to work."