Saturday was the first day that the Cardinal’s major league team could carry more than 25 players. Without having to make any corresponding roster moves, the Cards activated Lance Berkman from nearly a month on the DL, and called up lefty Sam Freeman.
Berkman is still not at full strength, and will likely be pinch ran for anytime he reaches base. He is continuing to battle soreness in both of his knees and will not start for the Cards in the near future. However, his offensive presence alone is beneficial to the Cards. Being able to have a powerful switch hitter off the bench late in a game to pinch hit is a luxury for many teams. Certainly, having Berkman in the lineup every day would be ideal, but the Cards have a much better lineup defensively with Berkman coming off the bench. Berkman was 4-17 with 3 walks in 6 rehab games with AAA Memphis.
Freeman, a diminutive lefty reliever, was called up from AAA on Saturday as well, providing a crucial boost for the Cards bullpen. Marc Rzepczynski had been working as the lone lefty reliever for the Cards, and had struggled as of late. Freeman gives Mike Matheny another lefty option and pushes the bullpen to 8 players. Freeman was a logical call-up for the Cards, and one that was highlighted by CardsBlog earlier in August. Freeman had been out with an oblique injury for two weeks, but came back to pitch for Memphis on Thursday. Previous to his injury, he had been stellar out the ‘pen, throwing 22 and 1/3 innings while allowing only 3 earned runs. He got his first chance on Sunday versus the Nationals an threw an impressive scoreless frame, retiring all three batters he faced in order. Freeman could be huge for the Cards down the stretch.
Furthermore, the rumor is that Card’s top prospect Shelby Miller could be among the latest Cardinals’ call-ups once the minor league season is complete. Keep an eye on CardsBlog for more info.