Nicasio joins Cardinals, ready to contribute

Righty could immediately pitch in late-inning situations

Nicasio joins Cardinals, ready to contribute

SAN DIEGO -- Following a cross-country flight from New York to San Diego on Wednesday, Juan Nicasio slipped on his third different uniform in a 10-day span and was available out of the Cardinals' bullpen for Thursday's series finale against the Padres.

St. Louis swung a deal for Nicasio on Wednesday, swapping infield prospect Eliezer Alvarez with the Phillies for a right-handed reliever it hopes can help stabilize the bullpen. Nicasio, who will wear No. 12, jumps into a pennant race, as he also tries to enhance his value ahead of free agency.

"Definitely, it's known that the month of September is a time to show my capabilities," Nicasio said through an interpreter. "But really, my 100-percent focus is on the current situation and helping my team reach its goals. I'm really excited to be part of the Cardinals, and hopefully help the Cardinals get into the postseason."

Nicasio, who was pitching for National League Central-rival Pittsburgh until late August, arrives having made a Major League-high 67 appearances this year. That has already surpassed his career high of 53, though this is also the first of Nicasio's seven big league seasons in which he has been utilized exclusively as a reliever.

Cardinals acquire Juan Nicasio

Manager Mike Matheny hasn't defined how he intends to use Nicasio, but it's expected that the 31-year-old righty will immediately be thrust into high-leverage, late-inning spots. He may even get opportunities to close.

The improved success Nicasio has had against left-handed batters this season allows for added flexibility in how he's used. After allowing a .291/.366/568 slash line to left-handed hitters in 2016, Nicasio has been stingier this year against lefties (.200/.245/.240) than he has against righties (.232/.309/.392).

"This offseason, I worked really hard on focusing on how to manage that," Nicasio said. "Luckily, this season, everything has gone as planned."

Medical report

• Infielder Matt Carpenter (right shoulder bursitis) has responded well since receiving a cortisone shot on Tuesday, and could return to the Cardinals' lineup as early as Friday.

• Though he remained out of the lineup for a third straight day, outfielder Tommy Pham (right shoulder soreness) took pregame swings in the indoor cages and during batting practice to try and convince the Cardinals he'd at least be a pinch-hit option on Thursday.

• Matheny reported that infielder Kolten Wong (back tightness) has shown improvement during his rehab work back in St. Louis, but suggested it likely won't be until the weekend that Wong returns to the field.

• Infielder Jedd Gyorko (right hamstring strain) did some light running and participated in BP on Thursday. He expects to test his hamstring running the bases for the first time on Saturday.

Worth noting

• Matheny acknowledged that the organization is considering using Monday's off day to reorder its rotation. Doing so would allow the Cardinals to set up their rotation how they wish for an upcoming series against the NL Central-leading Cubs.

• With the Cardinals not expected to land in St. Louis until the wee hours of the morning on Friday, the club had Luke Weaver fly back on Thursday, ahead of his Friday start.

• Triple-A Memphis and Class-A Peoria both won the opening games of their respective playoff series on Wednesday. Aledmys Diaz homered twice and Tyler O'Neill also went deep in Memphis' 4-1 victory.

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