6/21/2014 1:59 A.M. ET
Choate emerging as versatile weapon in bullpen
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- In the years before he joined the Cardinals and even in his first season as one, Randy Choate carved his niche as a left-on-left specialist, oftentimes coming in to face only a lefty or two before calling it a day. This season, however, he has been increasingly deployed for longer stints, resulting in somewhat regular matchups against righties.
Choate faced 141 hitters in 2013, 99 of which were left-handed. That gap has shrunk considerably this season, as Choate has faced 48 left-handed batters and 37 right-handed hitters heading into play on Friday. It was a shift that the Cardinals began to prepare Choate for in Spring Training as manager Mike Matheny was looking for maximum flexibility with his bullpen. Choate still typically enters to face a left-handed batter; the difference is that he's now more often staying in to face additional hitters.
"If that's the plan of attack that they want to go with, that's their choice," Choate said. "Being the competitor I am, I'm going to be out there trying to do my best to get the guy out."
Though his overall numbers haven't recovered from a May 12 outing in which the Cardinals left him on the mound to endure a beating from the Cubs, Choate has continued to thrive against lefties, limiting them to a .100/.208/.175 slash line. Right-handed hitters, though, are hitting .424/.472/.485 off the veteran Choate.
The silver lining is that 12 of the 14 hits Choate has allowed to right-handed batters have been singles. None have left the park.
"I'm trying to put the ball on the ground," Choate said. "I'm trying to use the weapons that I have, and hopefully it's a ground ball at somebody and not in the hole."
The longer relief stints have Choate on pace to throw 10 more innings this year despite his current pace to match last season's total of 64 appearances. If the Cardinals chose to carry three lefties upon Kevin Siegrist's return that could free Choate up more matchup-based work, though Matheny said on Friday he does not envision a significant shift in roles even then.
"Just his value to our 'pen to let everybody else get done what they need to get done, I think it's going to have to stay that way," Matheny said. "In those close games, he's still going to get the shot to come in and get his guy."
Adams shows defensive capability at first base
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Adams made the highlight package, a replay review and nearly the blooper reel in a rather eventful night at first base during the Cardinals' 5-1 loss to the Phillies on Friday.
His defensive play shined several times, most notably when he speared Cody Asche's sharply hit ball down the first-base line to rob Asche of a fifth-inning double. Adams made another tough pick the following inning, and started a nifty double play in the seventh.
"I think just how well he moves over there can get overlooked," manager Mike Matheny said of Adams, who entered the night ranked second among National League first baseman with six defense runs saved. "He does a nice job. He's a good defender. He's getting more aggressive, more comfortable over there with time. He's got a nice feel."
However, not all went so smoothly for Adams. His foot came off the base when receiving a throw in the seventh, a gaffe that extended the inning and gave him an error. It also initiated a replay review, as the Cardinals believed video evidence showed Adams did touch the base on a second attempt, still in time to record the out. The call would not be overturned.
"It was close," Adams said. "Obviously, they saw otherwise."
The Cardinals then ended the ninth with a wacky defensive play that left everyone simply relieved that no one got hurt. Ryan Howard skipped a ball that hit off Adams' leg and back toward the plate. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal gave chase, stumbled while fielding it, but managed to roll the ball to Adams to get the out. Howard leaped over Rosenthal to avoid entanglement.
"You could say the ball was finding me," Adams said. "You have a lot of left-handed guys [on the Phillies team] who like to pull the ball. I'm doing everything I can over there to help our pitching staff out."
Cards agree to terms with second-round pick Morales
ST. LOUIS -- Andrew Morales, taken by the Cardinals with the 71st overall pick in the 2014 Draft, has agreed to a $546,100 signing bonus, saving the organization $250,000 in pool money based on the slot value of that selection.
Morales still has to pass a physical (which is expected to happen early next week) before the Cardinals officially announce the signing. Morales will then be the 27th player from the Cardinals' Draft class to join the organization. With the agreement in place, the only player left unsigned from the first 10 rounds is third-round pick Trevor Megill, who intends to return to college for his senior season.
Morales just wrapped up his senior season with the University of California at Irvine, which was eliminated from the College World Series on Wednesday. The only game UC-Irvine won during its stay in Omaha was started by Morales, who limited Texas to one run on six hits and three walks in a six innings last Saturday.
Morales, a first-time draftee, went 11-2 this season and posted a 1.53 ERA in 135 2/3 innings. He struck out 141, walked 33 and limited opponents to a .185 batting average. The 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander was also recently named the All-Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Siegrist making progress, remains cautious
ST. LOUIS -- Kevin Siegrist described his left shoulder as "better" after testing it during a game of catch from a distance of 120 feet on Thursday. He said, though, that he does not expect to resume throwing off the mound until all symptoms from the nerve-related issue are gone.
"It's progress, definitely," Siegrist said after the throw. "It's just retraining that nerve so that I can throw again."
This shoulder discomfort, which Siegrist also dealt with briefly in Spring Training, is unrelated to the forearm strain that landed him on the disabled list last month. He has recovered from that injury and would have already been out on a Minor League rehab assignment had his shoulder not begun to bother him.
Siegrist will need to throw at least one side session here in St. Louis before the Cardinals would consider sending him out to an affiliate.
"I'm just taking it day by day based on how I feel," Siegrist said. "I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent before I go out there."
Cards' third-round pick Megill elects not to sign
ST. LOUIS -- Trevor Megill, a third-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, has informed the organization that he intends to return to Loyola Marymount University in California for his senior season instead of signing with St. Louis, general manager John Mozeliak said on Friday.
The Cardinals knew there was risk in using the 104th overall selection in the Draft on Megill, who missed his entire junior season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He recently began pitching in the Cape Cod League to begin proving his health and potential, and Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz was among those in attendance for Megill's first outing.
Ultimately, though, Megill was seeking more than the Cardinals were willing to offer.
"We had discussions with him a few days ago and he indicated there was distance in perceived value," Mozeliak said. "We were basically instructed not to make any offers, so we didn't. And ultimately, he's chosen to go back to school."
Mozeliak later clarified that the organization did make an initial offer, after which came the response that a counteroffer need not be made.
By not signing Megill, the Cardinals will net an extra pick in the 2015 Draft, which will come immediately after the third round. The Cardinals do, however, lose $504,400 from their pool of Draft bonus money this year. That was the slot money attached to the No. 104 pick.
• Mozeliak said that Joe Kelly is scheduled to throw a "rigorous bullpen" session on Sunday and then, assuming all goes well, send him out on a Minor League rehab assignment next week. Kelly has been on the disabled list since mid-April with a left hamstring strain.
• Several hours before Friday's game Yadier Molina, along with teammates Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay, Tony Cruz and Carlos Martinez, taped segments at Busch Stadium for a music video for artist Tony Lenta, who is signed by Molina Records.
• Mozeliak said that the Marco Gonzales' strong showing since being promoted to Double-A "gives [the organization] hope that he could end up at Triple-A before the season ends." Gonzales, the organization's top pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, is 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA and has held opponents to a .220 average in seven Double-A starts.
• Oscar Taveras, on his 22nd birthday, collected two hits, two runs and two RBIs in Memphis' 12-9 on Thursday. He was one of six Redbird players to have a multi-hit game for the Triple-A club. Pete Kozma drove in four runs; Xavier Scruggs went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored.
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.