ST. LOUIS • Having done all the Cardinals asked of him in a starter's role at Class AAA Memphis, righty Carlos Martinez will return to the club this afternoon.
But it won't be a starter's job he's taking.
Less than a year after he was arguably the most effective reliever in the majors, Kevin Siegrist is going back to the minors a day after allowing a grand slam that flipped Saturday's rain-soaked game on the Cardinals. Siegrist allowed the grand slam to Jedd Gyorko, a righthanded batter, that erased the Cardinals' lead and pushed the Padres toward a 9-5 victory.
Siegrist has not been the same since returning to the active roster from a DL stint to address a forearm strain and some numbness through his arm that he described once on the disabled list. It's possible that the Cardinals could position this demotion as a second "rehab assignment." The return to the minors could be short enough that it won't cost an option year and won't cost Siegrist service time. He returned from the injury and a previous rehab assignment to a long relief role -- one that he had never held in the majors before.
He threw more pitches in one inning Saturday night than he did in any of his major-league appearances in 2013.
Martinez, 22, opened the season on the big-league roster as a reliever after challenging for a spot in the starting rotation during spring. When a need arose during the season for a starter, Martinez built his stamina on the job. He was 2-4 with a 4.74 ERA in 38 appearances before being returned to the minors as a starter after his cameo in the rotation.
In Memphis, he has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless innings in two starts. He has allowed as many baserunners (seven) as he has strikeouts (seven).
Martinez is en route, though it's not certain he'll be at the ballpark by the start of the game. The Cardinals have a full complement of righthanders available in the bullpen today.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny recently said that the righty has been able to show the command of the off-speed stuff that was necessary for a return. That was the assignment given Martinez when he returned to Memphis and was assigned to a starting role.
“He’s throwing a lot of sliders,” Matheny said. “The slider has been effective. We wanted him to work on all of his off-speed pitches and apparently that’s what he’s doing. He’s just got to execute each pitch.”
The manager added this morning that he has been using "Kevin like he was a righty" and that the abundance of lefties in the bullpen (four until today) meant they had to push Seth Maness into spots before the eighth inning. It created a spot where Siegrist was doing things that a Martinez or Jason Motte or Maness had done in the past, not his usual lefty-heavy assignments.
Matheny did not guarantee Siegrist would return when rosters expand on Sept. 1, though that would make sense from a roster standpoint, a service time aspect, and his potential usage.