NYM@STL: Garcia floats an RBI single over the infield

ST. LOUIS -- Infielder Greg Garcia earned his first big league promotion on Monday, though the Cardinals plan to use veteran Mark Ellis as their primary second baseman for at least the immediate future.

With Kolten Wong back in the Minors, the Cardinals have three players -- Ellis, Garcia and Daniel Descalso -- capable of playing second base. Manager Mike Matheny intends to use all three, to varying degrees.

"Ultimately, that's what [Ellis] was signed for to begin with, to give us that protection," general manager John Mozeliak said. "So we'll take advantage of it."

Garcia, 24, will be middle infield insurance and, the Cardinals hope, a meaningful add to their bench. Through 21 games, Garcia led Triple-A Memphis with five homers and had an 11-game hitting streak going until Sunday. Garcia was batting .267/.357/.535 and had hit safely in 17 of 21 games.

He found out after Memphis' loss on Sunday that after parts of five seasons in the Minors, he had finally earned his Major League chance.

"It's something special," said Garcia, who will wear No. 12. "It's something I've thought about for a long time. Words really can't describe how I'm feeling right now. It's a great feeling and I'm happy to be here. There are a little nerves, but more excitement than anything just looking around this clubhouse and seeing the guys here. I just want to go out and compete and help this team win."

Garcia played collegiate baseball with Wong at the University of Hawaii, an interesting wrinkle since he now takes Wong's spot on the 25-man roster.

"He was actually the first person that called me," Garcia said. "That's just the kind of character and the kind of guy Kolten is. We have a great relationship and nothing's going to change that. He's a great baseball player and he'll be back up here soon."

Grichuk gives Cards big bat, options in center

MIN@STL: Grichuk rips an RBI double off the wall

ST. LOUIS -- As they sought a spark for the offense, the Cardinals had their choice of three outfield prospects and another outfielder, Joey Butler, who is off to an even hotter start than any of those three.

It was Randal Grichuk's readiness to play center field that ultimately gave him the edge.

Grichuk, 22, joined the Cardinals on Monday, receiving a locker alongside Peter Bourjos, who was also in the November trade that brought Grichuk into the organization, and getting jersey No. 15, which once belonged to standout Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds. It just so happens to also be Grichuk's favorite number.

"Jim wore it well," Grichuk said, grinning. "It's a dream come true. I'm speechless right now. All the emotions are sinking in right now."

The Cardinals hope Grichuk can wear it well too, though the organization made this move more focused on the immediate than the long-term. The club wanted to improve its bench -- Grichuk was batting .310/.351/.529 through 21 Triple-A games with a .400 average against lefties -- while also giving manager Mike Matheny another center field option.

Monday's starting center fielder was Jon Jay, who is expected to continue to get regular starts. The right-handed-hitting Grichuk can be a complement to the left-handed-hitting Jay, though that could also come at the expense of playing time for Bourjos, who is stuck in an 0-for-15 rut.

"I don't think we're really hemmed in to do one thing or another, realizing that if the playing time doesn't come over the long haul, or even in the shorter term, we can make the adjustments as necessary," Matheny said. "But right now we're in a situation where we have to win games. We have to figure out who can step in and help us out right now. And Randal seemed like the right fit."

If, after some time, the Cardinals feel that Grichuk's growth is being stunted by limited playing opportunities with the big league club, the organization will send him back to the Minors to play every day. In other words, the organization sees continued fluidity with that roster spot.

"What he was doing down in Memphis was hitting the ball hard and often, and that's a good quality," general manager John Mozeliak said. "I would imagine he will get some time, but given the flexibility we have in someone like him, even if it is for just a few weeks, that gives us a chance to change sort of the elements of our club and just see how things work out. I think when you make these moves, you're looking at it more as a short-term view than necessarily the long-term. Ultimately, we'll just see how this works out."

Grichuk is coming off a Double-A season in which he hit 27 doubles and 22 homers for the Angels' affiliate. He also won a Minor League Gold Glove for his defensive efforts in 2013. Improved plate discipline has been among his primary focuses since joining the Cardinals' organization.

"At first, I didn't really know what to expect," Grichuk said of joining a new organization. "But realizing that if a team trades you, they have interest in you and want you. It was a new opportunity with new eyes on me."

Worth noting

• With Randal Grichuk now in St. Louis, top prospect Oscar Taveras is expected to get regular starts in center field with the Triple-A Memphis club. His start in center on Monday was his third of the season. Taveras homered in Memphis' loss on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

• Hitting coach John Mabry remains away from the club due to a personal situation. Manager Mike Matheny said that Mabry is expected back at the ballpark on Tuesday. In his absence, assistant hitting coach David Bell has been in the dugout as the lead hitting coach.

• The Texas League named Springfield first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez its Player of the Week for April 21-27. Rodriguez went 14-for-27 with seven extra-base hits, six RBIs and six runs during that seven-game stretch. Through 19 Double-A games, he is batting .347.

• During an afternoon ceremony at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, Cardinals Care, the organization's charitable arm, will distribute more than $117,000 in grants to 57 St. Louis-area nonprofit organizations that work with children.