The St. Louis Cardinals placed infielder Mark Ellis on the disabled list Tuesday with a left oblique strain and recalled Greg Garcia from Memphis. Garcia, a 25-year-old lefthanded-hitting infielder who played in seven big-league games earlier this year, is a guy many fans have called for recently as Ellis and fellow backup infielder Daniel Descalso have had their fair share of struggles off the bench.
The 37-year-old Ellis has had the worst season of his professional career in 2014, hitting .192/.267/.228 with no homers and 12 RBI in 167 at-bats. Ellis, who has been cast as a legitimate utility player, seeing action at third and first base in addition to his natural position of second, has seen his defensive ability drop off substantially, as he has a career-worst range factor per nine innings of 4.51, far below his career 5.10 mark.
Ellis’s injury gives Garcia another chance to establish himself on the Cardinals’ bench. The five-year veteran of the Cardinals’ system has hit .275 with eight homers and 40 RBI at Memphis, and he’s hit .367 with 10 RBI over 60 at-bats in the month of August. Garcia will provide depth behind starting middle infielders Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta, and he’ll provide an upgrade defensively over Daniel Descalso, the incumbent backup shortstop. However, he’ll be aiming to make more of an impact at the plate than he did in his previous big-league stint, when he went 2-for-10, with his biggest moment as a hitter coming with a walkoff hit-by-pitch against the Chicago Cubs.
Meanwhile, the move also cuts further into the Cardinals’ depth at first base. Since Allen Craig was traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 31, Ellis has served as the primary backup to starter Matt Adams and started at first on August 12, Adams’ lone off day since July 5. With Ellis on the shelf, the Cardinals could turn to Descalso, who played five games at first in 2012; Tony Cruz, who has played six big-league games at first base; or regular third baseman Matt Carpenter, who has played 46 games and started 31 at first since 2012.