Cards sign pitcher Hefner to Minors deal

Cards sign pitcher Hefner to Minors deal

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals signed right-hander Jeremy Hefner to a Minor League deal, opting to take a chance on a pitcher trying to return after undergoing a pair of Tommy John surgeries. The agreement is expected to include an invite for Hefner to participate in Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

Hefner, who made 50 appearances (36 starts) with the Mets in 2012-13, had his first reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2013. He returned to the mound a year later, but made just six Minor League appearances before reinjuring his ulnar collateral ligament.

Repairing it required a second Tommy John procedure, which Hefner underwent in October 2014. Recovery from that surgery precluded Hefner from pitching until the Dominican Winter League this winter. Playing for the Gigantes del Cibao, Hefner posted a 2.30 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out eight.

Hefner, 29, debuted with the Mets in April 2012, nearly five years after being selected out of college by the Padres in the fifth round of the First-Year Player Draft. During his two seasons in the big leagues, Hefner had a 4.65 ERA and a 1.324 WHIP over 224 1/3 innings. He made all but one of his 24 Major League appearances in 2013 as a starter.

Hefner is the seventh player the Cardinals have signed to a Minor League contract this offseason. Previous signees included catcher Erik Garcia, catcher Eric Fryer, right-handed pitcher Deck McGuire, right-handed pitcher J.C. Sulbaran, outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and right-handed pitcher Juan Gonzalez.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.