Roster expansions perfectly timed for Cards

Playing five games in three days, St. Louis happy to have reinforcements

August 31st, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Five games will be played in around 50 hours at Busch Stadium over the next three days, thanks to back-to-back doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday, along with a day game on Monday.

But the Cardinals are taking it one game at a time.

“You plan for the four games and a little bit of look at the fifth game, but ultimately, it’s really about that 12:15 p.m. [CT] game today and staying on top of it as we go,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Continually thinking about the now and the short-term future. It’ll be a great opportunity.”

The quantity of games in a short period of time comes at a good time in the schedule, though, as the calendar turns to September on Sunday. Reinforcements are on their way to bolster the roster.

Left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera was called up as the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader, and he can give the Cardinals length out of the bullpen if needed. Cabrera has a 5.91 ERA in Triple-A Memphis this year, but he’s had a string of good starts lately for the Redbirds, including seven scoreless innings a week ago, only allowing one hit and striking out 12.

Cabrera won’t have to be sent back to Memphis after Saturday because rosters expand Sunday for the start of September, and the Cardinals will have plenty of players available for the second doubleheader and beyond.

Outfielder Jose Martinez (right AC joint sprain) will be activated off the injured list Sunday, and will be activated to start the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Right-handers Junior Fernandez and will join the bullpen, and catcher will also join the team Sunday, giving the Cardinals an extra catcher and bat off the bench. Having a third catcher opens more opportunities for switch-hitting catcher to pinch-hit, too.

After the Minor League season ends on Monday, three more players will join the Cardinals: first baseman/outfield , outfielder and infielder can all bring some power off the bench.

“They know their roles and have had a variety of roles,” Shildt said. “Effectively, they’ll be used when we feel like it’s the most appropriate time. This is a good group of guys ready to play.”

Shildt said that starting pitcher , who is not on the 40-man roster, did not come up as a September callup player in the conversations he had with the front office, which made most of next month's roster decisions.

Left-hander (left biceps), who began facing live batters a little over a week ago, didn’t have enough game action yet to make it back to the Cardinals this season, Shildt said. By the end of the Minor League season, Gomber will have only thrown five innings after missing most of the year.

“He just ran out of days and times,” Shildt said. “He’s going to get another inning, so you’re looking at five innings of competitive baseball. Just not -- and we don’t have a strong need for him. Hard to ask him to come up and find a spot for him with five innings.”

Thomas hoping to find a role

(right wrist fracture) might be looking at a season-ending injury, but the outfielder is hoping that he can carve out a role as a pinch-runner with the Cardinals in September and beyond. After getting hit by a pitch Tuesday against the Brewers, Thomas will be in a cast for three weeks, and he could be out anywhere from three to six weeks.

“It’s always tough to have an injury that may or may not end your season,” Thomas said. “I hope I can come back and run some bases or something. It’s tough, but all I can do is stay ready. Hopefully it recovers well and all goes as planned.”

Thomas broke a bone in his right wrist in 2016 and described his current injury as “pretty similar,” which is why he was surprised to see that the CT scan in Milwaukee showed up negative. But when he got back to St. Louis and had more imaging done, the bad news appeared. He said he’ll see a hand specialist sometime next week to find out what his rehab and timeline might look like.

“I always hope,” Thomas said. “But all I can do is be ready to go.”