Outfielder-turned-pitcher Schafer joins Cards

Vet signs Minor League deal, along with Fryer and Lino

Outfielder-turned-pitcher Schafer joins Cards

The Cardinals signed three players to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training on Monday, including veteran outfielder Jordan Schafer, who will be in camp as a left-handed pitcher.

Schafer, 30, has played parts of six seasons with the Braves, Astros and Twins. He shifted to the mound last season, pitching 49 1/3 innings in three levels in the Dodgers' organization. He was 1-1 with a 3.83 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 40 appearances. He is a .228 career hitter.

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St. Louis also signed Eric Fryer and Gabriel Lino to Minor League deals with invites to Major League Spring Training.

Fryer, 31, served as the Cardinals' backup catcher for the first half of the 2016 season, but he was moved out due to a roster squeeze midseason. With the team's decision to release Brayan Pena earlier this month and its desire to start top catching prospect Carson Kelly in Triple-A, another backup was needed. Fryer will enter the season the favorite to win that job. Fryer played in a career-high 60 games last season between St. Louis and Pittsburgh and hit .267.

Lino, 23, spent 2010-16 with the Phillies and Orioles. The catcher has a career batting average of .230 with 26 home runs and 172 RBIs while throwing out 33 percent of 457 attempted base stealers.

The Cardinals also signed left-hander Daniel Schlereth and infielder Dickie Joe Thon to Minor League contracts. Both will report to Minor League Spring Training.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.