Missouri native Palmer could face Cards

Missouri native Palmer could face Cards

Missouri native Palmer could face Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Palmer grew up dreaming of pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium.

Half of that dream may come true over the next few days.

The Padres right-hander, who was recalled from Triple-A Tucson on Sunday, hails from Caruthersville, Mo., a 2 1/2 hour drive south of St. Louis. He attended several Cardinals' games as a youngster and always hoped he would eventually make it to Majors and perform in the closest stadium to his hometown.

This is Palmer's fifth trip to the big leagues after stints with San Francisco (2008) and the Los Angeles Angels (2009-2011). He last pitched for the Angels on April 24, 2011, but he never got the chance to pitch in front of family and friends.

Now, that dream could become reality.

"It's kind of funny, when you're little, you think about that kind of stuff and then maybe it really happens," Palmer said.

Palmer collected 16 tickets for Monday's game and said at least 20 more people from his hometown of 6,168 will be in attendance for the first game of the three-game series. Even more are coming for Tuesday and Wednesday's contests.

The 33-year-old compiled a 4-2 record with a 4.64 ERA at Tucson. He threw well in Spring Training, but suffered a hamstring injury that stalled his progress. His solid seven-week performance at the Triple-A level, along with a host injuries, helped bring him back to the big club.

San Diego manager Bud Black said Palmer would have likely made the team out of Arizona, were it not for the injury. Black is glad to have Palmer back aboard.

"He can start, he can spot start, and he's able to relieve in a number of different roles," Black said. "He's a long man, he can pitch middle [relief]. We like the versatility in his arm."

Palmer was released by the Los Angeles Angeles last season and signed a Minor League free-agent contract on Dec. 1. He last appeared in the majors on April 24, 2001.

After 391 days, Palmer is happy to get another chance.

"I'm ready, whatever they want me to do," Palmer said. "I'm happy to be here and to do whatever it takes to stay here."

Palmer has a major league mark of 13-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 20 starts spanning five-plus seasons.

Palmer starred at Caruthersville High School and played at Missouri State University under legendary coach Keith Guttin.

Palmer still has many friends in southeast Missouri and would love a chance to perform in front of them.

"I'm glad some people are here to enjoy this with me," Palmer said.