Cardinals Activate Fowler, Send Down Piscotty

(photo: Dexter Fowler/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Dexter Fowler is healthy and returning to the St. Louis Cardinals lineup, but Stephen Piscotty is back in Triple-A for the first time in over two years.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Dexter Fowler (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s (Monday’s) series open in Kansas City that they have activated outfielder Dexter Fowler (left forearm strain) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Memphis (AAA).

Fowler, who was disabled on July 25, is batting .241 (70-for-290) with 14 home runs (T2nd on team) and 37 RBI in 81 games during his initial season with the Cardinals.  The 31-year-old Fowler was disabled earlier in the year (June 25-July 7) due to a right heel spur.  His 14 round-trippers are currently ranked 2nd among all National League switch-hitters.

Piscotty, 26, was recently activated from the disabled list on August 1 after missing 16 games (July 15-31) with a right groin strain.   For the season, he’s batting .232 (57-for-246) with 6 HR’s and 31 RBI in 75 games.  Piscotty was also sidelined earlier this year (May 5-19) with a right hamstring strain.

Brian Walton’s take

The return of Fowler was expected, but it was unclear who would be moved out to make room. Jose Martinez may have avoided this fate by launching a grand slam on Sunday. Randal Grichuk has already done his turns in Memphis to retool. Tommy Pham has cemented his status as an every-day outfielder.

Stephen Piscotty (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Piscotty’s status and long-term contract seemed to keep him impervious from demotion. In fact, he had never spent a day back in the minors (except on rehab) since his initial arrival with St. Louis over two years ago, on July 21, 2015.

Then again, it had not been in the discussion until 2017. In fact, just this spring, the outfielder was given a six-year, $33.5 million contract covering 2017-22, plus a team option for 2013.

However, Piscotty has been struggling even more than earlier recently. Starting on July 27, he played in four rehab games at Class-A Peoria, batting just .200 (3-for-15) with two doubles, three RBI and a stolen base.  Still, it was determined he was ready to rejoin the Cardinals.

It was no better with St. Louis afterward. In 18 plate appearances over the last six games, Piscotty went 3-for-17 (.176) including a double. He walked once, fanned four times, scored no runs and had no RBI, while batting out of the four, six and seven spots in manager Mike Matheny’s order.

That is why Piscotty is back in the minors now.

The Redbirds will need to make a roster move to accommodate his arrival and ration at-bats. The Triple-A club already has four other outfielders – Harrison Bader, Adolis Garcia, Nick Martini and recent acquisition Tyler O’Neill.

P.S. In an interesting data point, 14 months after signing a six-year, $35.5 million contract with San Diego, Jedd Gyorko was optioned to the minors for three weeks. That December, he was traded to the Cardinals.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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