Lopez rejoins Cards, starts at shortstop
Greene optioned to Triple-A to make room for veteran infielder
ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps somewhat obscured in the flurry of discussion about the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in their lineup, the Cardinals likely made a more significant move on Monday. A day after Brendan Ryan's duties were officially curtailed, the Cardinals activated the man who is expected to step into that opening.
Felipe Lopez was added to the active roster on Monday after missing three weeks due to a strained right elbow. He was immediately inserted into the lineup, starting at shortstop and batting leadoff. Tyler Greene was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Lopez on the roster. Lopez did not go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
"I wasn't playing him until he was cleared to play short," manager Tony La Russa said. "He could have played second a few days ago."
In a way, Lopez will actually fill in for two players. He will likely play extensively at shortstop in place of Ryan, who has slumped badly for most of the season. But he also has a chance to hit leadoff regularly, filling the role that has been mostly occupied by Skip Schumaker for the past two years. Like Ryan, Schumaker has also not hit up to his usual standards so far in 2010.
So the upgrade to Lopez, who was hitting .273 with a .347 on-base percentage and a .432 slugging percentage before he got hurt, should be a significant one.
"I was interested in Spring Training, getting to know Felipe, he said his favorite thing to do was hit leadoff," La Russa said. "I said, we've got a leadoff guy, you can hit second, and I think he's a very good second-place hitter."
Since then, though, circumstances have changed. A productive Lopez in the No. 1 spot would likely boost the Cardinals' offense quite a bit more than any residual effects of switching Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday in the lineup.
Pujols moved to cleanup to help Holliday
ST. LOUIS -- Trying to energize a scuffling offense, manager Tony La Russa made the one move on Monday that he had been reluctant to make all year. He flipped Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday in the Cardinals' batting order, dropping Pujols to fourth and moving Holliday up to third.
The move is based in part on Holliday's struggles with runners in scoring position; he was 8-for-47 in such situations entering Monday. It also increases the RBI chances for Pujols, since Holliday is having a solid offensive season otherwise. Moreover, La Russa believes that hitting in front of Pujols can be a tonic for just about any hitter.
"It's a couple things," La Russa said. "No. 1, Matt is feeling OK, but he's a major impact guy for us and we've got to get him going to where he's more like himself. Two, hitting him in front of Albert should be a plus, but hitting him second, I didn't really like that too much."
La Russa ruled out putting Holliday in the No. 2 spot, because it would lead to disruptions elsewhere. For one thing, Ryan Ludwick has thrived since being moved into the No. 2 hole. So instead, he flipped his two stars.
The last time Pujols started a game for the Cardinals batting somewhere other than third was May 30, 2003, when he hit fourth against the Pirates. According to the Cardinals, Pujols made 1,046 starts in a row without batting in any spot besides No. 3. However, La Russa reasons that before Holliday's arrival, he hadn't had another hitter who provided a legitimate alternative.
"We'll see," the manager said. "We've still got to make it work, but Matt's been a third-place hitter. He likes hitting third. We need to be more productive. So you identify, there's things we can work on, there's things we can improve, which we will improve. And there's other things like this that maybe there's a spark there for us. and getting Matt going would be a spark."
Holliday expressed little preference between the two positions, but he did acknowledge that he likes knowing he will come to bat in the first inning.
"But with Albert," he said, "you usually hit in the first inning [anyway]."
Pujols, meanwhile, had even less to say, though La Russa said the slugger expressed his willingness on Sunday to make the switch.
"I don't care where I hit," Pujols said. "I'm just glad to be in the lineup."
P.J. Walters was outstanding once again on Sunday, pitching seven shutout innings for Triple-A Memphis in a 1-0 win over Tacoma. Amaury Cazana's eighth-inning homer provided the only run. ... Double-A Springfield roared out to an 8-0 lead, then barely held on to beat Northwest Arkansas, 10-9. David Kopp pitched five shutout innings, but things were rough for the S-Cards' bullpen. Matt Carpenter had another big day, going 3-for-5, while Curt Smith hit a three-run homer and Aaron Luna was 2-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs. ... Class A Palm Beach throttled Brevard County, 9-2, behind a 14-hit attack. Five different players had two hits for Palm Beach, and Brian Broderick allowed a run over five innings. ... D'Marcus Ingram went 3-for-5 with two triples for Class A Quad Cities, which beat Kane County, 5-4. Ingram is 14-for-39 (.359) with six extra-base hits in his last 10 games.
Walters is the player of the day for his third exceptional performance in as many starts. His seven innings were a season-high, and he struck out eight against one walk and three hits. On the year, Walters has allowed one run on nine hits in 18 2/3 innings, with 23 Ks and three walks. Walters, 25, was an 11th-round Draft pick out of South Alabama in 2006.
Tyler Greene was inserted into the lineup immediately for Triple-A Memphis, batting second and playing shortstop on the same day he was optioned. ... Monday marked Adam Kennedy's first game as a visitor in St. Louis since the Cardinals released him before the 2009 season. ... Prior to Wednesday's game against Florida, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will present Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon with a ceremonial cane, recognizing Shannon's induction into the Academy of Missouri Squires. Stan Musial and Lou Brock are also among the 100 living Missourians currently so honored.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.