Notes: Cards' roster comes into focus
Versatile pitcher Flores makes team after years in minors
HOUSTON -- The last smidgen of doubt was removed for Bill Pulsipher, Randy Flores and even Abraham Nunez on Tuesday. The new Cardinals suited up in their road grays with navy caps and took the field for Opening Day introductions at Minute Maid Park, having officially made the Redbirds' roster.
The Cards purchased the contracts of Pulsipher and Nunez from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday. Flores, along with Al Reyes and Hector Luna, was already on the roster but had to fight for a roster spot in Spring Training.
For Flores, it is the first Major League Opening Day in a nine-season professional career.
"The moment is to be enjoyed," he said. "But at the same time, if I wax philosophical, it takes me away from the job I've got to do to make this last a little longer. But it's a treat. It really is."
Flores was a jack-of-all-trades, and master of at least one or two for Triple-A Memphis last season. His 5-7 record says nothing about the job he did in several roles, posting a 3.82 ERA as everything from a starter to a short reliever. He recorded both a shutout and two saves, and that versatility will likely be called on by the Cardinals.
"It helped doing it last year in Memphis," he said. "I know that sounds weird, that doing something in Triple-A could help you, but the role did help. I was down there, I was starting, I was closing.
"I would say that I'm still able to use a bit of my arsenal, a bit of what I have, if I'm in a position where I'm coming in early in games and maybe get a time through the lineup or two. I have no idea what's gonna develop. There are a whole lot of possibilities."
Flores's roster spot had been relatively secure since Wednesday, when the Cards reassigned Kevin Jarvis to minor league camp, but Flores wasn't really sure of it until Monday. Pulsipher's position had been in some doubt as recently as Sunday evening. However, the club decided that it was confident in Pulsipher's ability to pitch despite a pair of recent minor injuries.
"It was just a question of showing health," said manager Tony La Russa.
Ank update: The Cardinals have requested release waivers on Rick Ankiel, and they will know Wednesday whether the pitcher-turned-outfielder has been claimed by another team. By requesting release waivers rather than outright waivers, the Cards allow for the possibility that Ankiel could refuse an assignment to another team.
Should Ankiel clear waivers, he would receive his release. However, the Cards would then almost certainly re-sign him and assign him to the minor leagues so he can pursue his attempt to become a successful outfielder.
Morris officially shelved: In an entirely expected move, the Cardinals have placed Matt Morris on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday. That will enable Morris to be activated as soon as April 18, in time for his scheduled April 19 start against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Morris will make two rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues: one on Thursday April 7 and one on Tuesday, April 13, both at Class-A Palm Beach.
Ailing hurlers: Ray King returned to the Cardinals on Tuesday, a day after feeling ill. Cal Eldred is still sidelined, however, due to a respiratory illness. Eldred stayed back at the team hotel on Tuesday and it's uncertain when he might be able to return to action.
Number switches: Two Cardinals opened the regular season with different uniform numbers than the ones they wore at the end of Spring Training. Roger Cedeno has switched from 32, which he had worn from his debut with the Cardinals, to 19, which he wore as member of the New York Mets. Flores, who wore No. 61 in spring as well as last year in his brief stint with the Major League club, has taken No. 34.
Both numbers were worn by Cardinals last year: Woody Williams had 19 and Steve Kline had 34. Other departed Redbirds whose numbers have already been taken include Mike Matheny (22, by David Eckstein) and Edgar Renteria (3, by Nunez).
Quotable: "The more times you go through it, the more excited you get. You know how special it can be." -- La Russa, on his 26th Opening Day as a Major League manager
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.