SAN FRANCISCO -- At a time in the season when most clubs look forward to increasing their depth with the addition of several Minor League players, the Cardinals eye September as a chance to fortify their roster simply by getting healthy.
Beginning Tuesday, teams will be permitted to carry more than 25 players on their active roster. Manager Mike Matheny said the team doesn't plan to make a "sizable" number of Minor League additions but rather rely on the return of several rehabbing players.
Center fielder Jon Jay (left wrist stress reaction) has begun a Minor League rehab assignment and is expected back later this week. The Cardinals hope that left fielder Matt Holliday (right quad strain), first baseman Matt Adams (right quad strain) and outfielder Randal Grichuk (right elbow strain) are only a week or two behind him.
On the pitching side, Matt Belisle (right elbow inflammation) is also expected back by mid-September.
"That's a pretty good boost when you start talking about the guys who we could potentially be bringing back here," Matheny said. "We're talking about some of the key components of our club. When anybody goes down, you just hope to get them back and see how it fits. But right now, we've got an opportunity to see some guys who bring quite a bit to the table as far as experience goes and understanding what it feels like down the stretch and understanding what it feels like to try to compete to get to the postseason. Those things are invaluable with us."
That's not to say that the Cardinals won't also add from the Minors. The club is expected to bring up a few extra pitchers, as well as at least one extra backstop.
On the pitching side, the Cardinals have several Triple-A arms -- Mitch Harris, Tyler Lyons and Miguel Socolovich -- who have thrown valuable innings for the big league team already this season. Lefty Marco Gonzales, whose season was twice interrupted by shoulder issues, is now healthy. And Sam Tuivailala, who is with the Cardinals during Trevor Rosenthal's paternity leave absence this week, will reappear next month.
Lefty Tim Cooney would have been a certain September add, but complications returning from appendicitis have kept him off the mound since July 24.
"Bad timing," Matheny said.
The Cardinals have three catchers -- Ed Easley, Michael Ohlman and Cody Stanley -- on their 40-man roster from which to choose. Other players already on the 40-man roster include infielder Dean Anna and first baseman Xavier Scruggs.
The club is unlikely to call up anyone not already on the 40-man roster. Not only is that roster full, but the Cardinals already face the challenges of opening spots on that roster for Belisle, Adams and Walden when/if each is ready to come off the 60-day disabled list.