Tuivailala recalled from Triple-A for fifth time

Cards opt for nine-man bullpen ahead of Wainwright's return to rotation

August 4th, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The path from Memphis to St. Louis has been regularly traveled by reliever , who, for the fifth time this season, was recalled from Triple-A on Friday. In the Cardinals' 3-2 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, he entered in the eighth inning to face , who lined out.

With set to return from the disabled list on Sunday, the Cardinals no longer needed to keep starter on the Major League roster. As a result, they sent Weaver to Memphis and chose to add a ninth reliever to the bullpen, rather than a fifth bat to the bench, for the first two days of their series in Cincinnati.

"We had a couple days, even in this last series, where we were thin with what we had in the bullpen," manager Mike Matheny explained. "There are a couple of exceptions, but most of the time we haven't had that situation where we ran out of bats. But we've been close to running out of arms. Just having more support down there makes more sense."

Tuivailala may not want to get too comfortable, however, as the Cardinals will be shaving that reliever number back down to eight to clear a roster spot for Wainwright to start the series finale.

Tuivailala has pitched well enough to deserve a longer stay, but his status as a reliever with options has made him the easy candidate to be shuffled back and forth between levels when the Cards have lacked other roster flexibility. He rejoined the team in Cincinnati, having posted a 1.27 ERA in 18 Triple-A games and a 2.14 ERA in 18 Major League appearances this year.

"I have felt comfortable with all my pitches, even when I was up here before I got sent down," Tuivailala said. "I was going to do the same thing down there, just try to stay sharp, attack the guys and use all four pitches. Everything has been really good."

While there may be additional travel in Tuivailala's immediate future, there is also light at the end of the tunnel. He will be out of options next year, and that should help him move into more of a priority position on the roster.

"It's definitely been a journey for me this year," Tuivailala said. "But the way I've approached things from a mental standpoint and going back down is it's part of the process."

Worth noting

(left forearm strain) flew to Cincinnati on Friday, but flight delays prevented him from joining the team for batting practice and pregame work, Matheny said. Fowler is expected to work out with the club this weekend, and if all goes well, he will be activated from the 10-day DL when the Cardinals wrap up this road trip in Kansas City.

• A day after taking a foul ball off the collarbone and being struck in the back of the head by a bat, was out of the Cardinals' lineup on Friday. Backup catcher made his third start since being recalled on July 21.

• Triple-A shortstop has rebounded from a 3-for-26 spell to go 13-for-33 with two homers and eight RBIs in his past nine games. Diaz drove in three runs and scored twice in Memphis' 10-4 win on Thursday.