8/14/2013 2:41 A.M. ET
Cardinals recall Curtis to bolster infield depth
By Jenifer Langosch and Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Infielder Jermaine Curtis has looked at the big picture and knows his second big league stint won't be an extended stay. With Yadier Molina and Shane Robinson expected to come off the disabled list Thursday, another roster move is pending.
"I have common sense," Curtis said.
But in the meantime, the 26-year-old is happy to be back in St. Louis and excited to do what he can to help the club.
"It's always a great feeling to come to baseball heaven," Curtis said. "I'll be here for a few days, enjoy it, play hard and see what happens."
The Cardinals added Curtis to the 25-man roster, expanding the bench to five players in advance of their key series against the Pirates. Right-hander Michael Blazek was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Curtis and, with Michael Wacha transitioning into a relief role, the Cards had the flexibility to unplug someone from the 'pen.
Curtis, who went 0-for-2 during a brief big league callup earlier this season, gives the Cards another right-handed bat off the bench. He was hitting .259 with four homers and 42 RBIs in Memphis. Curtis has played second and third base this season.
"I would like to be better numbers-wise, but I've learned a lot in Triple-A," Curtis said. "Triple-A is a lot of veterans, and they know how to play the game. They're not just throwing fastballs down the middle. I'm learning the game more -- to sit on offspeed pitches and look for this on this count -- and I think it's going to help me in my career."
Curtis found out about the callup Monday and, after a three-hour delay in Dallas, arrived at Busch Stadium around 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
Memphis third baseman Ryan Jackson was another candidate for the fifth bench spot, but he currently has the flu and is batting just .207 with no extra-base hits in his last 10 games.
In Curtis' first stint with the Cardinals back in late April and early May, he made three plate appearances with one walk and one strikeout and is still looking for his first Major League hit.
Holliday exits marathon with sprained ankle
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday exited Tuesday night's 4-3, 14-inning victory over the Pirates in the 10th inning with a right ankle sprain, although X-rays came up negative, according to manager Mike Matheny. He's considered day to day.
Holliday, who was unavailable postgame, reached on a walk and, during Rob Johnson's at-bat, extended a few steps toward second before cutting hard on his right ankle to retreat back to first when pitcher Vin Mazzaro threw over. Holliday reached second on a throwing error by Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who was off on the toss to second for the forceout, before pitcher Joe Kelly replaced him as a pinch-runner.
Batting fourth for Holliday, reliever Seth Maness grounded into a double play with runners on the corners in the 11th and struck out with the bases loaded in the 13th.
"All I could go off of was how he was moving from first to second, it looked like he was really favoring it and didn't want to take a chance," Matheny said. "Who would have thought that spot [in the lineup] would come around that many more times and be in that big a situation?"
Before leaving the game, Holliday went 2-for-4 with a walk, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games. He has reached base safely in each of his 18 games since he came off the disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
Yadi, Robinson expected to come off DL Thursday
ST. LOUIS -- Each encouraged by their recent rehab progress, Yadier Molina (right knee sprain) and Shane Robinson (right shoulder strain) both said on Tuesday that they expect to be activated from the 15-day disabled list in two days, their first day of eligibility.
Over the last few days, Molina has tested his knee by taking batting practice, catching bullpen sessions, blocking balls and running sprints. The period of rest that preceded Molina's return to baseball activities was designed to help the inflammation in his knee subside, and Molina said he can feel a difference.
"It's been pretty good," Molina said. "I don't feel any pain. It's been good. Everything we're doing right now is a good sign, and hopefully on Thursday I'll be ready to go."
Robinson would likely be off the DL already had he been eligible. He wrapped up a three-game rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield on Sunday and went 2-for-10 during that stint. More importantly, Robinson has tested his right arm by making full-effort throws from the outfield.
"I let it go a few times, and it felt fine," Robinson said. "I can't complain about anything."
After resting on Monday, Robinson rejoined the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. He participated in batting practice, shagged balls in the outfield and slid back into his old pregame routine.
Beltran not letting foot bruise keep him out of lineup
ST. LOUIS -- Two days after being forced out of a game early due to a right foot contusion, Carlos Beltran talked his way back into the Cardinals' lineup for Tuesday's series opener against Pittsburgh.
Beltran, who left Busch Stadium on Sunday with a bruised and swollen foot after fouling a ball off it during his third at-bat, said he woke up Tuesday feeling considerably better. The bruised area is still painful, Beltran said, but not enough to keep him sidelined for this critical series against the Pirates.
"I really want to be out there," Beltran said. "I know how important this series is, and I also understand that, right now, there are not too many ballplayers out there feeling 100 percent. I just feel like I can be out there and that I can compete. ... It bothers me, but once the game starts, I don't think about it. I want to be out there and help the team."
Beltran, who benefited from Monday's off-day, said he experienced only limited discomfort with his foot when he took swings in the batting cage on Tuesday. The bigger concern for the right fielder is his mobility.
Asked how this injury compared to the broken toe he suffered in Spring Training, Beltran said that the foot injury is less bothersome.
"This is something that is going to be there maybe for a week or two," Beltran said. "Like I said, for me, it's not time to think about it. It's time to move forward. There are a lot of guys here playing through injuries. This time of the year, no one feels perfect. ... Thank God I had a day off yesterday, because yesterday it was very, very sore and very painful. But I woke up today feeling a lot better. I'm happy where I am right now."
Wacha shifts to bullpen; Blazek optioned
ST. LOUIS -- With Michael Wacha transitioning into a relief role and the Cardinals wanting to add a 13th position player to the roster, the organization optioned right-hander Michael Blazek back to Memphis on Tuesday.
During his pregame meeting with the media, manager Mike Matheny was unsure of Wacha's availability for Tuesday. That's because the rookie right-hander threw 99 pitches during a start on Saturday. At the latest, Wacha, who will be pitching as a reliever for the first time this season, will be available on Wednesday.
Though Wacha can give the Cardinals length out of the 'pen, pitching in long releif will not be his defined role. The club is interested in utilizing him in more high-leverage, late-inning spots, perhaps taking some of that onus off rookies Seth Maness and Trevor Rosenthal.
"I just think he's throwing the ball as good as anybody we've got," Matheny said. "We want to go with our best right now. He's been throwing it well, and in his start he did a nice job, too. He gives us a little flexibility. ... He could be used in a number of different ways."
Blazek heads back to Memphis after allowing five earned runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings during his latest stint in the Majors. With Wacha taking Blazek's place in the bullpen, the Cardinals again have a relief corps of seven.
• Though his ailing foot precluded him from participating in any of the Latin dancing, Beltran said his Sunday night charity event was extremely successful. He estimated that 300-350 people attended "A Night in Old San Juan," which raised money for the Carlos Beltran Foundation and Cardinals Care. Beltran was not yet certain how much money was collected.
• Left-hander Tim Cooney was named Texas League Pitcher of the Week (Aug. 5-11), becoming the fourth Springfield player to earn the award this season. Cooney, 23, struck out 10 in his eight-inning outing last week. He retired 22 of 25 batters during one stretch and allowed just one run on five hits and no walks.
• Entering Tuesday's game, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez had hit eight home runs and driven in 32 runs against the Cardinals since the start of 2012. During that same time span, Alvarez is 16-for-47 with four homers, 17 RBIs and 10 runs scored in 12 games at Busch Stadium.
• Holliday entered Tuesday riding a nine-game hitting streak; he has also reached base safely in all 17 games played since returning from the disabled list. His .403 batting average since the All-Star break is second best in the National League behind Washington's Jayson Werth (.429).
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.