Cards will lean on McKenry for pop off bench

Cards will lean on McKenry for pop off bench

ST. LOUIS -- In seeking a roster replacement for Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals looked not for a player who could cover the same position, but rather for one who could provide the biggest jolt at the plate. It was criteria that the organization believed catcher Michael McKenry fit best.

McKenry, 31, had his contract purchased by the Cardinals from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, almost six weeks after the organization signed him as a Minor League free agent. McKenry has appeared in the Majors for parts of the past six seasons with the Pirates and Rockies. He began 2016 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate before being released in late May.

• Carpenter goes on DL, out of All-Star Game

The Cardinals signed McKenry for additional catching depth, though they don't expect to use him much at that position in the Majors. With Yadier Molina and Alberto Rosario ahead of McKenry on the depth chart, the Cardinals instead view McKenry as an offensive threat off the bench.

Since joining Memphis, the right-handed-hitting McKenry was hitting .341 (28-for-82) with five home runs and 20 RBIs. He crushed a walk-off homer in Memphis' victory over Nashville on Wednesday. He attributes the burst of success to finally being healthy again.

McKenry underwent surgery to repair a right lateral meniscus tear last August and admittedly rushed the rehab so he could participate in Spring Training with the Rangers. It ended up leaving him too compromised to perform.

"Those two weeks I had at home really gave me a chance to regroup and get healthy," McKenry said after Thursday's 5-1 win over the Pirates, referring to the time he spent in flux before signing with St. Louis.

"Talking with our Triple-A staff and also our development people about who would be the bat that would be as close to ready as possible to help us, we had a couple different options," manager Mike Matheny said. "McKenry is a guy who's been here. He has the kind of bat that has some pop in it."

McKenry's walk-off homer

In 308 career Major League games with Colorado (2010, 2014-15) and Pittsburgh (2011-13), McKenry has hit .239 with 29 homers and 103 RBIs. He has started 222 games, all but one as a catcher.

McKenry, who joined the Cardinals on Thursday and laid down a sacrifice bunt in the win, has been assigned No. 19. His addition also fills the Cardinals' 40-man roster.

Worth noting

• ESPN announced that it has selected the Cardinals' July 24 home game against the Dodgers for its Sunday Night Basbeall telecast. As a result, first pitch has been rescheduled to 7:08 p.m. CT.

Brandon Moss will have his sprained left ankle immobilized in a walking boot for some time. However, Moss is optimistic that he can heal fairly quickly given that he did not sustain a high ankle sprain. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 20.

Jhonny Peralta was out of the lineup for a second straight day due to left thumb inflammation. Matheny said the Cardinals are "hopeful" that Peralta will be able to return during the team's weekend series in Milwaukee. Peralta exited Tuesday's game early after injuring his thumb on a swing.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.