11:45 a.m. Wednesday update:
The Cardinals placed reliever Jason Motte on the 15-day disabled list today because of an AC sprain of his right shoulder.
Righthanded reliever Fernando Salas was recalled from Memphis for the fifth time this season and will take Motte's roster spot.
Salas has appeared in 10 games for Cardinals this season; he has no record with a 2.31 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. Salas was 1-0 with 18 saves and a 2.53 ERA and in 31 games for Memphis.
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Our earlier story on Motte's injury:
Something changed for Jason Motte between the seventh and eighth innings Monday night against the Houston Astros. What Motte explained as an abrupt loss of command immediately after the 9-4 loss came into sharper focus Tuesday. He was working with shoulder discomfort.
Motte had an MRI on Tuesday and will probably remain unavailable through Thursday's off day. The Cardinals and Motte gave no indication of a serious problem, but his discomfort was enough to affect Monday's game, which turned after Motte walked back-to-back hitters protecting a 4-2 eighth-inning lead.
Motte later informed trainers he had felt some discomfort warming for the appearance.
After pitching a scoreless seventh inning he asked that balm be applied to the area. When he returned for the eighth, he found it difficult to maintain the same arm angle. As his arm dropped, Motte's command vanished.
"I was a little bit lower," Motte said. "I think it was one of those things I think my mind was telling my arm we're not going to do it right now. We went and got it checked out. Everything is fine right now."
Motte attributed the condition to "the normal wear-and-tear of the year when you feel tired, you feel good off and on."
The Cardinals continue to carry 13 pitchers after optioning outfielder Nick Stavinoha on Tuesday to create roster room for Allen Craig.
Former Cardinals right fielder Ryan Ludwick morning acknowledged Tuesday that he met Friday with manager Tony La Russa and voiced concerns about his playing time after exiting the disabled list but added that he left town with nothing but respect for La Russa.
"I don't want people to think I left on bad terms, that I hate Tony or anything like that," said Ludwick, traded to the San Diego Padres on Saturday as part of a three-team trade that brought Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Jake Westbrook to St. Louis. "I respect the heck out of him as a Hall of Fame manager."
Ludwick's return from a right calf strain coincided with rookie Jon Jay's breakout month. Combined with lingering concerns about Ludwick's leg, La Russa publicly projected that he would start Ludwick two of every three games.
Ludwick sought the meeting with La Russa after not appearing in Friday's lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Obviously, there were some times when I wasn't playing. I've always wanted to be an everyday player and at times before I got hurt I believe I was. And coming over here (to the Padres) I think I will be an everyday player," Ludwick said.
Ludwick underscored strong feelings for La Russa and general manager John Mozeliak. The former All-Star and Silver Slugger recipient embraced La Russa during a Saturday afternoon meeting at Busch Stadium and described Mozeliak, who championed his December 2006 signing, as "a friend ... a good friend."
The Cardinals have made much noise about upgrading their starting rotation and perhaps their lineup. Little, however, has been noted about a defense that continues to plague a traditionally fundamentally sound club.
Though the Cardinals' bullpen took heavy damage during the final two innings of Monday's loss, much of the Astros' comeback stemmed from plays that were not made. A wide throw to the plate, a ball off an infielder's glove, a fly ball that eluded right fielder Randy Winn and a well-placed single through an odd infield alignment factored heavily as the Astros scored seven runs in their final two at-bats.
"With our club all year, there tend to be different ways we struggle, whether it's baserunning, whether it's defense, whether it's offense, whether it's starting pitching," Mozeliak said. "That part makes things difficult because there's no one answer to touch on all of that."