photo: Johan Oviedo (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
St. Louis Cardinals release
Prior to their double-header today (Wednesday, March 16) in Milwaukee, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the following roster moves:
- Right-handed pitcher Johan Oviedo activated from the Injured List;
- Infielder Max Schrock recalled from the Alternate Training Site;
- Right-handed pitcher Junior Fernandez recalled from the Alternate Training Site.
- Optioned right-handed pitcher Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site;
- Optioned outfielder Lane Thomas to the Alternate Training Site;
- Left-handed pitcher Rob Kaminsky designated for assignment;
- Outfielder Justin Williams named 29th man for today’s double-header.
Oviedo has appeared in four games (all starts) this season, going 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in 19.1 innings pitched.
Fernandez, who appeared in 13 games for the Cardinals last season, has worked in two games out of the bullpen this season.
Schrock, who made his Major League debut earlier this season, has made appearances at 2nd base (5 games) and 3rd base (2 games) – making a total of four starts between the two positions. Schrock, who bats left, hit his first M.L. homer on Aug. 17 in the 2nd game of double-header against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The left-handed hitting Williams, acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in 2018, will be making his Cardinals debut with his first game appearance. He did take one at-bat with Tampa Bay during his lone Major League game played on July 21, 2018.
Brian Walton’s take
The Cardinals moved to strengthen their rotation, bench and bullpen, heading into five games in the next three days. Seven players are on the move, with four joining the active roster.
As expected, Oviedo returns from his time on the COVID-related injured list due to his exposure to an individual who tested positive for the virus. The right-hander was tested daily and remained asymptomatic. As such, Oviedo was able to continue his normal between-start throwing routine, but has gone nine days since his last game action. The 22-year old last pitched in Chicago on September 7, when he yielded three runs in 4 2/3 innings. Overall, the rookie is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA and the Cardinals lost all four of his starts.
Oviedo is starting in Game 2 of Wednesday’s double-header and is needed to provide innings to a stretched St. Louis pitching staff. More starts could be in his future if he can impress.
With starting second baseman Kolten Wong unable to swing a bat without pain in his side, the Cardinals added another infielder in Schrock. The 25-year old can play second and third base as well as pitch in an emergency. At the plate, the left-handed hitter is batting just .176 (3-for-17, including one home run). He will likely serve as a reserve.
Fernandez was on the COVID IL from August 4 to 27, prior to which he tossed one scoreless inning. The right-hander pitched in just one game upon his return, allowing six earned runs in one plus inning and was optioned out on August 29. Going forward, Fernandez will have to earn meaningful innings out of the back of the pen.
Crismatt, 25, has improved his stock since his debut on August 17. The right-handed has pitched 8 1/3 innings over six games, finishing all six. He has been charged with three earned runs for a 3.24 ERA.
Crismatt’s most recent outing was three out-eating innings to close out Tuesday’s 18-3 rout at the hands of Milwaukee. He received kudos from his manager both after Tuesday’s game and again on Wednesday.
Staff leader Adam Wainwright has taken a shine to the Colombian native. Wainwright recently said, “He has similar stuff to me – except his change-up is better. It is nasty. He knows who he is as a pitcher and does not try to do too much.”
Crismatt should be back in 10 days or sooner as a 29th man in upcoming doubleheaders.
As noted, Williams made his MLB debut on July 21, 2018 for Tampa Bay. He played three innings, going 0-for-1, and was sent down afterward. He was dealt to the Cardinals in the Tommy Pham trade 10 days later, along with Genesis Cabrera and Roel Ramirez, both of whom made their St. Louis debuts earlier. The 25-year old outfielder has been working to get back to the majors in the 26 months since.
Williams is making his first start in the majors in right field and batting seventh for St. Louis in Wednesday’s Game 1. A good game could keep him in the lineup, as the outfield production has been lacking.
In the competition for a starting role this spring and again in Summer Camp, Thomas did not beat out Tyler O’Neill, opening the season as the fourth outfielder. He came down with COVID-19 in the team’s second wave and was on the IL from August 15 to 31.
Upon his activation, Thomas has played uncharacteristically poorly in the field and at the plate. The 24-year old has just four hits and four walks in 40 plate appearances for a slash line of .111/.200/.250/.450. With the alternate camp closing this weekend, it may take injuries to others for Thomas to get another shot in 2020.
Kaminsky, 25, drew the short straw, losing his 40-man roster spot so Oviedo could be activated off the COVID-related IL. The lefty had been used in low-leverage situations, pitching five times overall since his August 16 debut. Kaminsky yielded three runs in 4 2/3 innings for a 3.86 ERA.
It is unclear the current makeup of the taxi squad, as Fernandez, Schrock and Williams had been assigned there prior to their activation Wednesday.
With these moves, the Cardinals are carrying 16 pitchers and 13 position players on Wednesday.
Though Williams is designated as the 29th man for the twin bill, he could remain after the double-header to replace the sent-down Thomas as a reserve infielder. On the other hand, infielder Tommy Edman has already been playing in the outfield, a fact that Mike Shildt noted prior to the game.
So whether or not Wong is out longer, Schrock could remain as infield insurance. While Wong was optimistic before Wednesday’s games that he could run and play defense if needed, his inability to swing the bat without pain has to be concerning. The regular second baseman experiences pain in his ribcage when twisting to his left.
Kaminsky is immediately off the 40-man roster. His next move will be decided in the next seven days – whether traded, claimed off waivers by another organization, outrighted to the minor leagues or released. I would not be surprised if he clears waivers and is outrighted, remaining a Cardinal, as happened recently with Alvaro Seijas, Jesus Cruz and Ryan Meisinger. Then again, another organization might want to add the lefty reliever for the final two weeks.
The 40-man roster is now down to 42. Two remaining COVID IL players are still working their way back and have yet to return to the active roster – Kodi Whitley and Dexter Fowler (the latter who did not test positive). Accordingly, two current 40-man players will need to follow Kaminsky off the roster if/when the COVID duo are ready to be activated. Fowler appears to be closest, with details just below. Whitley has an undetermined elbow injury and has been in Springfield.
Shildt’s pre-game updates
Among other comments by manager Mike Shildt prior to Saturday’s game were the following.
On Molina: “He is in there. Nothing broken.” He wants to catch his brother Wainwright tonight.
On Wainwright: “It is good to have his steady hand.”
On Oviedo: “His rapid test (today) was negative. He will pitch in Game 2 (as the starter).”
On Tuesday night’s fracas: “I had a conversation with the commissioner’s office (Chris Young) and talked through my version. (Shildt was later suspended one game.)
On Molina’s concern Tuesday as Crismatt warmed up: “Yadi felt he was rushed (by the umpires).”
On sidelined John Gant: “He is supposed to throw on flat ground (today).” Will get feedback after.
On Fowler: “He is doing baseball activities (in St. Louis).” Better every day. On good path. Have a target return date, but not sharing it at this time. There is optimism.
Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation
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