Cards option Anna as Bourjos returns

St. Louis going with eight-man bullpen

Cards option Anna as Bourjos returns

MILWAUKEE -- Choosing to stick with an eight-man bullpen for at least a while longer, the Cardinals optioned infielder Dean Anna to Triple-A Memphis on Friday to create roster room for outfielder Peter Bourjos, who is returning from paternity leave.

Anna, who joined the team last weekend when Randal Grichuk went on the disabled list, made one pinch-hit appearance during his stay. His departure leaves the Cards with a four-man bench until further notice.

"I don't think we put a timeline on it," manager Mike Matheny said, when asked about the less-traditional roster breakdown. "But as hard as we've had to work the 'pen, it just makes sense at this point. Running out of position players hasn't been an issue. Pitching has. Every year you have a little different makeup of how to use your guys properly."

In sending down Anna, the Cardinals retain Mitch Harris as an extra arm in the bullpen. The club is just three days into a 20-day stretch in which it will play 20 games, and keeping an eighth reliever should alleviate some of the demands on the other relievers.

Talk of bullpen overuse is contradictory to the numbers, as the Cardinals had logged fewer relief innings (37 1/3) than any other team in the Majors entering Friday. But five relievers have combined to cover 33 2/3 of those innings since Carlos Villanueva has been held back for long-relief help and Randy Choate has been deployed as a lefty specialist.

Matheny has been aggressive in running through the rest of his relievers largely because 12 of the team's 14 games have been decided by three or fewer runs.

"The style of games we've been playing have just put an unusual workload on our guys," Matheny said. "I think it's going to be how our starters do and the types of games we have and how we use our 'pen. I don't want to use three guys in an inning, but I will if that gives us the best chance to win."

Bourjos was away from the team for three days while his wife, Ashley, gave birth to their first son, Maxton Christopher. Mother and son are home from the Arizona hospital, Bourjos said, and doing well. They are expected to rejoin Bourjos in St. Louis next month.

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.