Infielder Greg Garcia’s reward for the Cardinals’ first game-ending hit by pitch since the 1970s was a bruise and a demotion to Class AAA on Wednesday.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny felt compelled to apologize for the latter given how important to the team was the former.
“I said it didn’t feel right to do this, but this is something that we’ve got to do,” Matheny said after the team optioned Garcia to make room for second baseman Kolten Wong. “The wheels were in motion before the game even started.
"Greg Garcia did a nice job. His versatility really makes him somebody we’re really excited about how he could potentially help us in the future. We gave him some small things to work on and just stay the course.”
With the bases loaded in the 12th inning Tuesday, Garcia was plunked by a Justin Grimm pitch to force home the game-winning run in a 4-3 win over the the Cubs. The last time a hit batsman brought in the winning run for the Cardinals in an extra-inning game at home was 1974. On July 25 of that season, infielder Jerry DaVanon was struck by the Mets’ Jack Aker to end a game in the 10th with a 4-3 Cardinals victory.
In seven games with the Cardinals, Garcia reached base six times in 14 plate appearances — three by being hit with the pitch and twice by hitting safely on the pitch.
The lefthanded hitter returns to a regular role at second base with Class AAA Memphis, though his ability to play all four infield positions gives him future value to the big-league club.
• Oscar Taveras’ 29 RBIs for the Class AAA Redbirds rank seventh in the Pacific Coast League.
• Like Adams and Taveras, who won back-to-back MVPs for the Texas League at Class AA Springfield, outfielder James Ramsey is taking an early swing at the level’s triple crown. Ramsey’s nine home runs are tied for the league lead, and he ranks fourth in average (.301) and RBIs (24) through his first 38 games.
• Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals’ first-round pick last summer, is 2-2 with a 1.43 ERA through six starts at high Class A Palm Beach. His ERA ranks fifth in the Florida State League, and he has 32 strikeouts and eight walks in 37 2/3 innings.
• Alex Reyes, one of the top teen prospects in the minors, is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in six starts for low Class A Peoria. His ERA ranks in the top 10, and in 29 1/3 innings he’s struck out 39 but walked 20.