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Gyorko returns to Cards' lineup; Sierra optioned

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- After missing the first two days of the series following the birth of his third child, Brooklyn Ellee, Jedd Gyorko was reinstated from paternity leave on Sunday ahead of the Cubs-Cardinals series finale from Wrigley Field.

In a corresponding move, the team optioned outfielder Magneuris Sierra to Double-A Springfield.

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CHICAGO -- After missing the first two days of the series following the birth of his third child, Brooklyn Ellee, Jedd Gyorko was reinstated from paternity leave on Sunday ahead of the Cubs-Cardinals series finale from Wrigley Field.

In a corresponding move, the team optioned outfielder Magneuris Sierra to Double-A Springfield.

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"Yeah, it was great," Gyorko said of the leave. "It was good to make sure momma and the baby got home safe and are doing well."

Gyorko, who leads the team with a .321 batting average this season, last played against the Dodgers on June 1.

The third-baseman entered Sunday ranked 10th in the NL in batting average and is having the best offensive season of his career. Gyorko is on pace to set career-best numbers in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

In his absence, the Cardinals went 0-2, falling 3-2 to the Cubs on Friday and losing, 5-3, on Saturday.

"It's tough watching it on TV. It's kind of weird to sit at home and watch the games," Gyorko said. "But glad to be back and hopefully I'll help the team out tonight."

As for Sierra, he played in the series opener from Wrigley Field and had an eventful day. He hit an RBI single in his first at-bat that put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, but also misplayed a fly ball that helped the Cubs complete their comeback and pull off a 3-2 win.

Video: BOS@STL: Sierra ties club record, steals first base

Sierra did not appear in Saturday's game, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny acknowledged beforehand that what he saw of the youngster in such a short time wasn't quite as important as what the club could learn by following him at the lower levels.

"We also realize that we get a snapshot, so we spend a lot of time talking with the Minor League coaches and managers and development group about those very things," Matheny said. "What do you see when this kid is going well? What do you see when he's really struggling? They give us a much better idea because they see him day in day out."

Matheny reflects on memories with Pujols

While Matheny didn't get a chance to see it live -- he was watching two of his sons pitch -- he did chime in with some memories of Albert Pujols, who hit his 600th home run Saturday and played with Matheny in St. Louis in the early 2000s.

Video: MIN@LAA: Pujols belts grand slam for 600th career HR

"I was telling a story earlier today: In Spring Training ... Tony [La Russa] called him into the office and Albert thought he was getting sent down," Matheny said. "He came back in and said that he's still with the team, at least for the exhibition games. But we needed to go shopping, because he didn't have a sport coat."

Matheny recalled his early impressions of Pujols, having seen his first home run. Matheny, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI on April 6, 2001 -- the date of Pujols' first homer -- said he wasn't sure that Pujols would be a historic hitter right away, but he did notice something about him that he thought could make him a great player eventually.

"You never know what kind of player they're going to be until you see them start to do those adjustments midseason and mid-game," Matheny said. "He was making adjustments mid at-bat. You could tell pretty early he's got a chance to be really good for a while, but [the] names that you'd have to throw him into a category with now, I don't know if anybody could ever foresee that happening."

He didn't do it all by himself though -- at least one part of it.

Matheny, who had already spent several seasons in the Majors before Pujols' debut, was careful to give the slugger his space at the game's highest level. However, the two became close during the offseason, and when it came time to get Pujols that jacket, Matheny was right there.

"Yeah, I did [buy it]," Matheny said. "I think he had sports coats but they were all back in Kansas City. And he came to Florida with no intention of needing a sports coat, to go back to Double-A or wherever he was going to be going."

Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Cardinals on Sunday.

St. Louis Cardinals