6/17/2013 8:24 P.M. ET
Salas set to begin last phase of recovery
By Jenifer Langosch and Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Fernando Salas is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday in what should be the reliever's final checkpoint before returning from the disabled list.
Salas, who has been sidelined with right shoulder inflammation since May 21, said he resumed throwing off the mound Friday. He threw off the mound again Sunday without issue.
"I feel good," Salas said Monday. "There's no pain. I have confidence and control."
Manager Mike Matheny would not estimate how many appearances the Cardinals would like Salas to get before he would return to the Cardinals' bullpen.
Though Salas made tangible progress in his rehab program while the Cardinals were on the road, Chris Carpenter's program remains somewhat stalled. The veteran right-hander threw a long bullpen session Sunday but is now dealing with some back tightness, Matheny said.
Carpenter, through a spokesperson, declined a request from the media to provide more details about the issue Monday.
Lyons on track to make Friday start
ST. LOUIS -- A day after rookie Tyler Lyons delivered another subpar start for the Cardinals, manager Mike Matheny indicated that the club planned to keep Lyons in the rotation and have him make his next scheduled start Friday.
"We're right on track," Matheny said when asked about Lyons' status. "Right now, that's definitely where we're going, and we want him just thinking about his next start, not about all this other stuff."
Lyons allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings against the last-place Marlins on Sunday. It was the third straight so-so outing for the left-hander following his strong first impression in the big league rotation.
Lyons lasted seven innings in each of his first two Major League starts, allowing a combined two runs on six hits in the two wins. In 17 innings since, Lyons has given up 14 earned runs on 22 hits and six walks. Matheny cited pitch execution as Lyons' biggest flaw during this stretch of starts.
"A couple mistakes here and there -- I think he's realizing -- hurt you in this league more than they hurt in the Minor Leagues," Matheny said. "Guys don't miss many mistakes in the middle of the plate when you're in hitters' counts. He's got to control the count. He's got to be able to use his secondary pitches, which we saw stints of that in almost all of his starts. It's just the consistency of those innings."
How long a leash the Cardinals will have with Lyons as their fifth starter remains undetermined. Joe Kelly would seemingly be able to slide into the rotation spot if the Cardinals opt for a change. Michael Wacha, who was optioned to Triple-A on Friday, cannot be recalled for at least 10 days following the move, unless there is an injury. Carlos Martinez, who has recently been stretched back out in the Memphis rotation, would also most likely be in the conversation if another fifth starter was needed.
Cardinals sign second-round Draft pick Mercado
ST. LOUIS -- Oscar Mercado met many who he hoped would one day be his teammates as the second-round Draft pick was at Busch Stadium on Monday to officially become a member of the Cardinals organization.
After passing a physical, Mercado, selected No. 57 overall at this year's First-Year Player Draft, signed his contract and will report to the Cardinals' Gulf Coast League club in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday.
"It was an honor," Mercado said. "I've got a long way to go, but I mean it's just exciting to know that I can be a part of this, and hopefully I'll be out here one day playing with these guys."
Mercado, who was born in Colombia and immigrated to the United States at age 8, turned down a scholarship to play baseball at Florida State. The 18-year-old prep prospect signed with the Cardinals for a $1.5 million signing bonus, significantly more than his slot value of $971,400.
"I love the organization I landed with," Mercado said. "That had a lot to do with it. When it comes to college, I did want to go to college. It was something that I had no problem doing. And obviously, it was going to take a good amount for me to bypass that, but all the right pieces landed together. I feel like I couldn't be happier with where I landed."
Mercado was excellent in the East Coast Pro Showcase last summer, batting .370 with 29 RBIs and 12 stolen bases, but his offensive production dropped during his senior year at Vivian Gaither (Fla.) High School. He hit .286 with only five extra-base hits this spring and said he was 100 percent healthy coming off the long summer.
"It's just something that happens, something I dealt with and I'm going to have to forget about and move on," Mercado said. "I always felt like a lot of teams had faith in me. I know they knew what kind of player I was and the way I performed over the summer. Obviously, the season didn't turn out to be how I wanted it to turn out. But at the end of the day, it all worked out for the best."
In addition to Mercado, the Cardinals announced Monday that they had signed right fielder Ricardo Bautista (12th round), center fielder DeAndre Asbury-Heath (15th round), shortstop Michael Schulze (19th round), center fielder Anthony Ray (36th round) and right-handers Arturo Reyes (40th round) and Brandon Lee (undrafted).
• Triple-A second baseman Kolten Wong tallied three hits in Memphis' loss Sunday. Wong has hit safely in 36 of his last 41 games and is hitting .319 on the season.
• Allen Craig and David Freese each began this homestand with 11-game home hitting streaks. The longest such streak this year in the National League belongs to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who strung together a 16-game run.
• High-A Palm Beach position players Jonathan Rodriguez and Stephen Piscotty contributed to the Florida State League South team's All-Star Game victory over the weekend. Rodriguez, a 17th-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Piscotty finished 1-for-5 with a run scored and drove in one. Piscotty, a first-round pick in 2012, also participated in the Home Run Derby. He advanced to the semifinal round before being eliminated.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.