While Pham recovered from injury, rookies Aledmys Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker shined. And while that's been a boost to the Cardinals' offense, it complicated the roster situation for Pham. Though Pham would have given the Cardinals an additional right-handed bat, the club preferred to stick with the left-handed-hitting Hazelbaker as its extra outfielder and to keep the right-handed-hitting Ruben Tejada as shortstop depth until Jhonny Peralta returns.
In optioning Pham to Memphis, the Cardinals are able to guarantee him the everyday at-bats that would not have been awaiting him with St. Louis.
"I'm still very high on him," general manager John Mozeliak said of Pham. "I still think he can be a contributor to this club. But I really felt like it would be better for him to be playing every day and showing that he's ready to contribute here."
• Top prospect Alex Reyes will wrap up his 50-game suspension this week and be added to the Triple-A Memphis roster on Sunday, Mozeliak announced. Reyes will start that day for the Redbirds, too, after having spent the last six weeks pitching in extended spring games. Because he has remained stretched out during his suspension, Reyes will not be limited with a pitch count upon return.
Reyes was suspended in November after testing positive for marijuana for a second time.
• Though the Cardinals have not yet determined a rehab assignment start date for catcher Brayan Pena (left knee surgery), Pena is gradually being cleared for additional baseball activities. While the team was on the road, he began catching exercises, which include squatting and reaction drills.
Pena also increased his throwing to a distance of 120 feet, increased his number of swings to about 60-65 from each side, and increased his speed on the treadmill to 9.5 mph. Pena, who has been hitting soft-tossed pitches only, is scheduled to take swings off a pitcher on Wednesday.
• Mozeliak said the club is targeting a June return for left-hander Tim Cooney, who has not pitched this year due to a left shoulder injury. Cooney, the Cardinals' eighth-ranked prospect by MLBPipline.com, will join the Memphis rotation once healthy.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.