The Cardinals have a duo of veteran right-handers set to join (or rejoin) the club in the near future, starting with newly-signed closer Greg Holland's scheduled arrival Monday. The return of Luke Gregerson, who began a rehab assignment Saturday, is also on the horizon. Both will prompt a shakeup in a St. Louis bullpen full of young arms with options.
Sherriff and Brebbia are two of those, and both figure to be up-and-down repeatedly in 2018. That's already been evident early in the season. Brebbia was promoted to fill the spot of Sherriff, who was promoted last weekend when left-hander Brett Cecil was sidelined with a shoulder strain. Brebbia pitched a scoreless inning in his 2018 debut in Sunday's 4-1 loss to the D-backs.
Sherriff threw 2 2/3 innings across three appearances since his recall on March 31. He was removed from Thursday's home opener after D-backs shortstop Ketel Marte lined a 112.1-mph comebacker off his right foot, which ricocheted into left field for a single.
Sherriff joked afterwards that he was trying to kick the ball to shortstop Paul DeJong, and shrugged off the injury as a bruise postgame. He eschewed X-rays until Saturday, after a foot specialist recommended them. Sherriff could be seen limping in the clubhouse Saturday, then arrived Sunday wearing a walking boot.
"I didn't think it was broken because it didn't hurt too much," Sherriff said. "I should have drank more milk as a kid."
Brebbia entered the year a favorite to break camp with the club after a breakout rookie year. Brebbia, who the Cardinals signed out of independent ball, logged a 2.44 ERA over 50 appearances in 2017. He was initially told he had made the club's Opening Day roster, before the club pivoted to promote rookie Jordan Hicks two days before Opening Day.
Brebbia instead began the season at Memphis, though he didn't appear in any of the club's first three games.
Right-hander Bud Norris might not get many more save opportunities in the immediate future, not with newly acquired closer Greg Holland set to join the Cardinals on Monday.
But the fashion in which Norris locked down Saturday's 5-3 win, recording his first save of the season and first in the National League, reminded the Cardinals they have another option with late-inning experience, if necessary. Norris wrapped three strikeouts around a double in a scoreless ninth, punching out Paul Goldschmidt to end the game. The former starter saved 19 games for the Angels last season, his first as a closer.
"He's wanted those opportunities, too," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He continues to remind us that he can do it. He did it last year, and he continues to show us that by how he goes about it."
Norris' outing Saturday also revealed something about the right-hander's past, as well as his character. Norris was animated after throwing his final pitch, pointing to the sky as he walked backward off the mound. The celebration is new, Norris said, and meant to honor his late grandfather.
Norris writes his paternal grandfather's initials, "K.N." in dirt behind the mound every time he pitches. Ken Norris died when Bud was four years old, but he left his grandson keepsakes from a baseball career that was promising but never got off the ground.
Ken was a left-handed-hitting first baseman for Cal-Berkeley, good enough to earn an invite to Spring Training from the Yankees in the 1940s. Ken was soon drafted into the Navy, where he served for three years during World War II. He never got another chance to play professionally.
"I knew I wanted to cherish his memory, knowing he deserved to play in the big leagues too," Norris said. "I take him with me everywhere."
Over dinner with his parents this week in St. Louis, Norris recalled brief memories of his late grandfather. Norris' birth name is David Stefan Norris Jr. Ken called him "Little D," bought him golf clubs and taught him, among other things, the importance of table manners.
"He never got to see me play Little League or anything like that," Norris said.
But Ken did leave Bud dozens of game-used baseballs from his college career, and one from his Spring Training days that proves the stories of him. It is one of Bud's prized possessions.