ST. LOUIS -- A quick start to the Triple-A season kept Dean Anna on the Cardinals' radar, but it seems that something as simple as the side of the plate he bats from positioned him for his first callup to St. Louis.
Needing a player to take Randal Grichuk's spot on the bench, the Cardinals looked to find someone who could offer them a left-handed swing. For the first two weeks of the season, that Major League bench had skewed entirely right-handed. That may explain why Xavier Scruggs didn't get the call instead, even though the first baseman entered the day ranked in the Top 10 among all Pacific Coast League players in home runs (four), slugging percentage (.862), extra-base hits (seven), total bases (25) and RBIs (10).
Anna's start has been strong as well, with the utility infielder opening the year 11-for-28 for Triple-A Memphis. He hit safely in six of seven games and reached base safely in all of them. It was a continuation of how he felt late in the spring, when Anna began to settle in. His finish to Spring Training had been much better than his pedestrian start.
"I wanted to be ready for the season," Anna said, explaining why things improved as March deepened. "That was my main goal. Trying to make the team, I put a little pressure on myself, but the goal for me was definitely to be ready for the season. Because last year I was in big league camp and I swung too many times and I got tired. I learned from that."
Anna opened the 2014 season with the Yankees, went 3-for-22 and was optioned to the Minors before April ended. He didn't return to the big leagues until Sunday.
Though the Cardinals replaced an injured outfielder with a natural infielder, Anna does give the team defensive versatility. Most of his experience has come at short or second, but Anna is also an option to fill in at third or in the outfield. The Cardinals are, however, more likely to use Mark Reynolds or Pete Kozma in an outfield pinch than Anna.
Wherever he fits, it helps that Anna will have a glove of his own to use. That wasn't a given, as Southwest Airlines lost his luggage as he flew to town on Saturday night. His bag arrived on Sunday morning.
Why not keep the gloves as a carry-on item?
"I always do," Anna said. "Just this one time."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.