05/21/12 1:11 AM ET
Cardinals' depth tested by rash of injuries
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Depth is always insurance. And now, the Cardinals will find out just how much coverage that insurance can provide.
"We're challenging it," Matheny said, speaking of that depth on Sunday. "I think our fan base should be pleasantly surprised by the different guys we've been able to throw out there and how effective they've been. We'll just continue to throw guys out there and give them an opportunity to take advantage of it."
Lance Berkman became the fourth Cardinals player to land on the disabled list over the past week, making Matt Adams the fourth player moved from the Triple-A roster to the Major Leagues during that span.
Adams, Victor Marte, Eduardo Sanchez and Brandon Dickson all started the 2012 season with Memphis. Each has since been called up to fill varying roles. Marte has emerged as an important piece of the bullpen, and Adams is expected to get regular starts at first base for as long as Berkman is sidelined.
Another two players -- Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson -- likely would have begun the year in the Minors had the Cardinals not had several injured players coming out of Spring Training. Carpenter has already made 22 starts this year. Robinson has made a dozen.
MRI to determine severity of Berkman's injury
LOS ANGELES -- Still uncertain about the severity of a right knee injury he sustained in Saturday's game, Lance Berkman moved around the visitors' clubhouse quite gingerly on Sunday.
Berkman described his knee, which was wrapped, as "stiff, for sure." He is also still unable to bend it.
Berkman's MRI is scheduled for Monday, following what is certain to be an uncomfortable four-hour flight back to St. Louis overnight. Though the club is withholding speculation on just what is wrong with Berkman, the Cardinals wasted no time getting someone here to take his spot on the roster.
Matt Adams joined the Cardinals from Triple-A as Berkman was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The move comes exactly one week after Berkman came off the DL. That stint was the result of a left calf strain.
"I didn't sleep great," Berkman said. "It wasn't because of the pain. It's just when you get hurt like that, you start thinking about what is it and what does it mean?"
Berkman went down at the end of the second inning on Saturday, just as he caught a routine putout at first base. He sat on the infield grass for a short time before needing help moving to the dugout. After the game, Berkman said he felt his knee buckle twice -- once initially and the second time when he tried to walk on his own.
There was, Berkman said, no discernible pop.
Berkman has dealt with knee injuries for years. He's had four surgeries -- two on each knee -- during his career. One of those procedures was to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee after the 2004 season.
Signed to a $12 million, one-year contract, Berkman has been limited to 42 at-bats this season because of injuries.
"We hope for the best with the [MRI] results that we get," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, "and keep swinging."
Adams hopes to impress in big league stint
LOS ANGELES -- Cognizant that the circumstances weren't ideal, Matt Adams joined the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday determined to make a strong impression in his first big league opportunity. And he wasted little time.
St. Louis added Adams to both its 40-man and 25-man rosters on Sunday in response to putting first baseman Lance Berkman on the disabled list. Berkman sustained a right knee injury in Saturday's loss. Adams followed with a two-hit night in his Major League debut, hitting seventh and playing first base in the Cardinals' 6-5 loss to the Dodgers.
"Once I saw that first pitch, and once we got that first out, the nerves kind of calmed down and the competitiveness kind of came out," Adams said. "The big thing was just going up there and being aggressive."
Adams swung on the first pitch he saw from a Major League pitcher and lined Chad Billingsley's fastball up the middle for a single. He singled to center again and scored in the sixth.
"He's a pretty mature hitter for his age and experience," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before the game. "He has a short, powerful swing and the ability to stay within himself and not try to do too much. He has the ability to go to both fields. Power is a rare commodity and he's got some. Defensively, he does a nice job, too."
The 23-year-old Adams knew even before the phone call that he'd be leaving behind his Triple-A teammates in Las Vegas. Pulled from Memphis' game in the fourth inning on Saturday night, Adams was informed of his impending callup by manager Ron "Pop" Warner in the dugout. He then flew out Sunday morning.
Named the Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year after a 32-homer, 101-RBI season in 2011, Adams showed little trouble adjusting to the demands of Triple-A pitching in 37 games at that level this season. He left Memphis having hit .340 with a team-high nine homers and 27 RBIs.
Adams said he found Triple-A pitchers to be less generous with fastballs -- especially in hitters' counts -- but that after a brief period of adjustment, he found little trouble dealing with offspeed offerings. Adams will strike out with regularity, and he's not going to walk all that often, but his presence in the lineup does infuse plenty of power potential.
"I've seen him for a few years now, and I felt pretty comfortable that he'd make the adjustments," Matheny said. "That's part of the maturity that we're talking about. He's going to have a learning curve here as well, but he has some great resources here with the hitting coaches to reinforce what his approach is. Then it's just going to be a test of his will to stay with it."
Though Matheny wouldn't delve into specifics on how he plans to use Adams, it's expected that Adams will play regularly. The Cardinals still have Matt Carpenter available to play first base, too, though both Adams and Carpenter hit from the left side.
"Hopefully, I can make the most of my opportunities," Adams said. "I've been swinging well, and I've felt good at the plate. I am swinging at better pitches, and I started laying off pitches down and am waiting for pitches up more."
The Padres have set their rotation for their upcoming three-game visit to Busch Stadium. The Cardinals will face lefty Clayton Richard on Monday, followed by right-hander Edinson Volquez on Tuesday and right-hander Jeff Suppan on Wednesday.
Four pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout for Double-A Springfield on Saturday. Making his first start of the year, Deryk Hooker pitched the first three innings. Michael Blazek, who was just moved from the rotation to the bullpen, followed with a four-inning appearance. Eric Fornataro and Keith Butler finished off the 1-0 win.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.