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Cards put Holland on DL; Lyons, Kelly return

Veteran reliever dealing with right hip impingement
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

PITTSBURGH -- For weeks as the Cardinals searched for an underlying cause of Greg Holland's struggles, both Holland and the club publicly insisted his issues weren't physical. But as the poor outings piled up, club officials privately suspected something medical might be behind the former All-Star's perplexingly ineffective start to the season.

Saturday, they pinpointed at least a partial explanation, placing Holland on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip impingement a night after his fourth consecutive discouraging outing. The two runs he allowed over an inning Friday put Holland's ERA at 9.45 across 18 appearances, over which he's pitched to career worsts in every statistical category. He revealed Saturday he'd been pitching through discomfort over the course of his short Cardinals tenure, a two-month stretch he called "embarrassing."

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PITTSBURGH -- For weeks as the Cardinals searched for an underlying cause of Greg Holland's struggles, both Holland and the club publicly insisted his issues weren't physical. But as the poor outings piled up, club officials privately suspected something medical might be behind the former All-Star's perplexingly ineffective start to the season.

Saturday, they pinpointed at least a partial explanation, placing Holland on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip impingement a night after his fourth consecutive discouraging outing. The two runs he allowed over an inning Friday put Holland's ERA at 9.45 across 18 appearances, over which he's pitched to career worsts in every statistical category. He revealed Saturday he'd been pitching through discomfort over the course of his short Cardinals tenure, a two-month stretch he called "embarrassing."

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"I wasn't pitching well, and I didn't want to use it as an excuse," the 32-year-old said. "It got to a point where I think it's affecting me on the mound. It's at a point where I'm not giving us the best chance to win."

Holland and manager Mike Matheny discussed the decision in a closed-door meeting in the manager's office on Saturday, not an hour after the club announced a flurry of moves. Left-hander Tyler Lyons was reinstated from the DL in Holland's place, while Carson Kelly also returned from a hamstring injury. Kelly's arrival sent backup catcher Steven Baron back to Triple-A Memphis in a corresponding move.

Video: STL@CIN: Lyons gets Votto to ground into double play

One of the Cardinals' most effective relievers from a year ago, Lyons has been traveling with the team and eligible to return from a sore back since last weekend. Kelly's return had been mapped out since mid-week, before he made two rehab appearances at Memphis. It was the decision to disable Holland that came as a surprise, particularly after the reliever continuously maintained he was healthy. When prompted, Holland consistently pointed to mechanical issues and a lack of "feel" as his struggles continued to compound.

"He was downplaying it for a little while. More than anything I don't think he wants to come across as a guy making excuses," Matheny said. "I think he realized there is something keeping him from throwing the ball like he used to. He just doesn't want to appear like a guy looking for an out."

Late Friday night, Matheny strongly suggested Lyons would likely replace righty John Gant on the roster, after Gant threw 5 1/3 innings in a 8-1 loss to the Pirates. Placing Holland on the DL allows Gant to remain with the club for at least a few more days, and reopens the possibility of Holland discovering his form in the Minors, where he can embark on a rehab assignment at some point. Holland's ability to reject a Minor League option had kept the Cardinals from broaching the subject with him, while his $14 million salary provided an impetus for Matheny to keep using him in an attempt to get him right.

The manager was visibly exasperated late Friday, literally throwing his hands up when asked to explain Holland's fourth straight rough outing. Holland has allowed eight earned runs over his last two total innings pitched, stretched across four appearances. He's walked 10.1 batters per nine, struck out a career-low 6.8 per nine and allowed 20 hits in 13 1/3 innings.

"I don't know," Matheny said, shaking his head. "It's the same, unfortunately."

Holland said he'd see doctors from the Pirates organization on Saturday before leaving the team for St. Louis, where more tests are scheduled for Tuesday. There is currently no timetable for his return.

"It doesn't necessarily hurt on a single pitch, but it's been bothering me for the last couple weeks," Holland said. "It's not necessarily painful when I'm out there on the mound, but I do feel something. I don't know if that's affecting me when I deliver a pitch. It's more day-to-day stuff, trying to get my lifts in and stuff of that nature. It's been a hindrance."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Greg Holland, Carson Kelly, Tyler Lyons