NEW YORK -- The Cardinals' bullpen shuffle has led to the promotion of left-hander Sam Freeman, who, after beginning the year pitching in the Double-A bullpen, is now in New York and available out of the Cardinals' bullpen.
Freeman, along with Maikel Cleto, whose callup was announced on Thursday, will take the bullpen spots that most recently belonged to Chuckie Fick and Brandon Dickson. Fick and Dickson were optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, a day after manager Mike Matheny suggested that 'pen changes needed to be made.
"We're just going to keep moving forward, giving guys innings and seeing how they produce," Matheny said on Friday. "We just have to get closer to defining this bullpen. We're fooling with the recipe a little down there in the bullpen, trying to get something that's working. Having a couple good, young, strong arms is, I think, going to give us some other opportunities."
The addition of Freeman gives Matheny the second left-handed option that he hasn't had since the club released J.C. Romero on May 14. The absence of a second lefty left Matheny having to rely too heavily on Marc Rzepczynski, though Victor Marte has also been a weapon against left-handed batters.
This is an ideal time for the Cardinals to add another lefty, too. Eight of the nine players to start on Friday for the Mets hit from the left side.
Losing Dickson, who can build back up as a starter now that he returns to Memphis, leaves the Cardinals without a defined long reliever. The club got along fine without one in April, when the starters were regularly pitching into the later innings.
Freeman, 24, posted a 1.56 ERA in 15 games with Double-A Springfield before being promoted to Memphis. He made just six Triple-A appearances, allowing three earned runs on five hits in six innings.
"I was just trying to get outs," said Freeman, who will wear No. 61. "It didn't matter the level. I was just focused on getting outs. I'm throwing strikes more consistently. The strength has been there. I think consistency is the main thing."