Tejada likely headed to DL with left quad strain

Gyorko will assume starting shortstop duties; Garcia makes team as infield depth

Tejada likely headed to DL with left quad strain

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Cardinals are essentially back to where they were two weeks ago when they had capable shortstop options, but not necessarily the depth of coverage they desired. That's how they'll have to open the season now that Ruben Tejada, the shortstop they signed on March 19 to help mitigate the loss of Jhonny Peralta, will join him on the disabled list.

What was supposed to be a final tuneup for the Cardinals turned more complicated on Thursday, when Tejada strained his left quad running to first base in the team's Grapefruit League finale. Tejada downplayed the injury after the team's 9-1 win over the Yankees, but the early assessment from the Cardinals' medical staff was that Tejada wouldn't be ready when the team opens its season against the Pirates on Sunday.

Tejada has an MRI scheduled for Friday in Pittsburgh.

"I hope it's nothing bad," said Tejada, who went 6-for-22 after signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Cardinals. "I felt a cramp. I don't feel any pain."

The injury to Tejada forces the Cardinals to open the season with five players -- Tejada, Peralta, Mitch Harris, Lance Lynn and Jordan Walden -- on the 15-day disabled list. As recently as Tuesday, the Cardinals anticipated carrying both Walden and Tejada on their Opening Day roster.

This also means that the shortstop carousel returns to Jedd Gyorko, whom the Cardinals acquired in December with the intention of carrying him as a utility infielder. Instead, he'll open the season as the team's starting shortstop.

Gyorko, who made 28 starts at short for the Padres last season, has played the position regularly this spring so that the Cardinals could evaluate his readiness.

"The more I watched Jedd Gyorko, the more I felt comfortable throwing him in there and watching him get the job done," manager Mike Matheny said. "Would I have felt very comfortable throwing Ruben Tejada in there? The answer is, 'Absolutely.' I just thought we had viable options. Both of them had proven they were ready to go."

Greg Garcia, who will be on an Opening Day roster for the first time in his career, will provide shortstop depth behind Gyorko. The day actually started with Garcia's health in question. He had missed the team's previous three games due to right knee soreness, but replaced Tejada in the second inning on Thursday and played the rest of the game without issue.

Tejada will be eligible to come off the DL on April 16, which would be the date of the team's 11th game.

"We want to get Ruben back because he was having a real nice start to Spring Training with us," Matheny said. "He was swinging the bat well, making the plays. But right now, it's one of those things we always seem to deal with. It's not what we wanted, but we're going to be fine."

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.