Cardinals bolster bench with two callups
Carpenter, Hamilton join big league club; Kozma, Cleto sent down
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are beefing up their bench with a pair of additions.
The club optioned shortstop Pete Kozma to Triple-A Memphis and pitcher Maikel Cleto to Double-A Springfield on Friday. To replace them, the Cardinals recalled first baseman/outfielder Mark Hamilton from Memphis and purchased the contract of third baseman Matt Carpenter from Memphis.
The Cardinals are doing without outfielder Matt Holliday, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday. That will provide more regular playing time for Allen Craig and Jon Jay, which in turn weakens the Cardinals' bench. Bringing back Hamilton and adding Carpenter should help address that issue. Both players are left-handed hitters who have succeeded at the plate in the high Minors.
Kozma, 23, appeared in 10 games during his first stint in the big leagues, mostly off the bench. He went 1-for-8 but drew three walks and recorded a double for his first Major League hit.
Hamilton will be making his second appearance in St. Louis this year. He went 3-for-15 earlier in 2011. Over parts of three seasons at Triple-A, however, Hamilton has shown himself to be an offensive force. In 25 games at Memphis this year, he's batting .391 with a .509 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging percentage. His career Triple-A line is .318/.409/.564 with 26 home runs in 143 games.
Carpenter was a Spring Training sensation and very nearly made the Major League roster out of camp. He got off to a slow start in the regular season but is currently hitting .283 with a .421 OBP and a .387 SLG at Memphis. Carpenter was the Cardinals' Minor League player of the year in 2010.
"I went into that Spring Training camp just hoping to even get a chance on the field, so to have the opportunity that I did was just an awesome experience," Carpenter said. "And then I got to take that experience into the season and I think it's helped me a bunch. I think it gives you some confidence knowing that you've gone up there and had some success. I mean, obviously, it's not real big league games like this would be, but it's definitely a taste of it and you get a feel for it."
Cleto, 22, allowed five earned runs in two innings Thursday in his big league debut against the Giants after being promoted earlier in the day. Manager Tony La Russa praised Cleto, who retired the last five batters he faced after a rocky beginning to his debut.
"I told him that one way to look at it is there are a lot of pitchers in the organization and he was the one that was called up," La Russa said. "So that's a really good sign. And he did exactly what we needed him to do in that game. He pitched, saved our bullpen and now he can stay down there and keep learning and progressing."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.