PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals have opted to give Tuesday's start in Cincinnati to right-hander Michael Wacha, who made the decision fairly straightforward with his dominant long-relief performance against the Reds last week.
After watching Wacha strike out seven and limit the Reds to three hits in four scoreless innings, the Cardinals started making plans for the 22-year-old to fill the fifth spot in the rotation the next time it came around. Wacha was briefly optioned to Double-A, threw a side session in Springfield (Mo.) on Saturday, and will be officially recalled by the Cardinals on Tuesday, the earliest date that he can be added back to the big league roster.
"The way he threw the ball the other day -- it was not like we were doing tryout camp -- but he made it very obvious that he's the guy we want to see out there," manager Mike Matheny said. "He looked great."
This will be Wacha's first start for the Cardinals since Aug. 10 and the fifth of his big league career. He has also pitched six times in relief. That bullpen work, coupled with the move the Cardinals made to have Wacha pitch in a six-man rotation with Triple-A Memphis this summer, limited his workload enough that the club feels comfortable eliminating any reins for this final month.
That means that if Wacha -- rated the Cards' No. 2 prospect by MLB.com -- can seize this starting opportunity, the Cardinals will be content keeping him in that role through September.
"The organization made some pretty proactive movements to help us be at that point," Matheny said. "We were just kind of putting guys out there and seeing what would work for us, just like with Tyler [Lyons starting last Monday]. We wouldn't have been very hesitant to throw him back out there. But Michael was just that good."
Wacha, Lyons and Carlos Martinez will travel to Cincinnati on Monday so that all three will be there when added to the roster Tuesday. The returns of Lyons and Martinez will give the Cardinals two extra pitchers in the bullpen capable of providing multiple innings.
Chambers lone callup as rosters expand to 40
PITTSBURGH -- Rosters expanded across baseball Sunday, though there was little evidence of that wrinkle in the Cardinals' clubhouse before the team's series finale against the Pirates.
With the organization waiting until Tuesday to bring up additional pitching support, the only player recalled from the Minors on Sunday was speedy outfielder Adron Chambers. Teams are free to move as many of their 40-man roster players as they want to the active rosters for this final month of the season.
The addition of Chambers gives the bench added speed and outfield depth. It is the third straight season that Chambers has been a September summons and will be his second stint with the big league club this season.
"It lets me know that I belong here," said Chambers, who arrived in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. "It's just continuing to give me a chance to learn the ins and outs of the game. It's helping me every time I come just to get more comfortable."
Chambers appeared in 11 games with the Cardinals in August, went 1-for-12 off the bench and scored both times that he was inserted into the game as a pinch-runner.
"Obviously, he's a weapon off the bench to come in and run or take a pinch-hit at-bat if we need him to," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just brings a lot of energy. He's good to have around here."
The Cardinals intend to bring up three additional pitchers -- Michael Wacha, Tyler Lyons and Carlos Martinez -- from their Double-A Springfield roster Tuesday. Wacha will start Tuesday night against the Reds in Cincinnati. The organization may consider plucking another extra arm from Memphis, though that likely wouldn't happen until after the Triple-A team wraps up play. Memphis is positioned for postseason play.
The timing would likely be the same for any other position players added from Memphis. Brock Peterson, Jermaine Curtis and Ryan Jackson are likely to get consideration for a later callup.
Beltran sits with tight back, hopes to play Monday
PITTSBURGH -- Carlos Beltran was out of the Cardinals lineup Sunday due to tightness in the lower right side of his back, the same ailment that prompted his removal in the seventh inning of Saturday's loss.
Beltran said the issue surfaced while taking a swing during his sixth-inning at-bat in Saturday's game. He played the field in the bottom half of that frame before being removed as part of a double switch.
Beltran was available to pinch-hit Sunday, but said he still felt some pain when trying to take pregame swings. Asked if he expected to be ready to play Sunday, Beltran answered with some uncertainty.
"Honestly, all I did today was treatment and ice it and try to make it feel better," Beltran said. "Thank God we scored runs and I wasn't needed to be used. Hopefully tomorrow I wake up feeling good and I can be there."
With Beltran on the bench, Shane Robinson made the start in right field. He reached base four times with two walks and two singles and scored once.
Cruz activated as emergency option behind plate
PITTSBURGH -- Though he has still not been cleared to swing a bat, Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz has been activated from the 15-day disabled list so that he can serve as emergency protection behind the plate.
Cruz was eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but the Cardinals waited until rosters expanded on Sunday to make the paper move. That kept the club from having to create roster space by sending someone out.
Cruz, who has been sidelined with a left forearm fracture, said that he can feel improvement, even though his baseball activities have been limited to throwing. He hopes to have clearance to resume swinging a bat on Wednesday or Thursday. In the meantime, he'll only be used if the Cardinals get into a bind at the catcher position.
"We're going to move slow with it," manager Mike Matheny said. "In an emergency situation where we need someone to come behind the plate instead of throwing one of the position players back there, Tony is going to be available."
While Cruz continues to recover, Rob Johnson remains Yadier Molina's primary backup.
"My hope," Cruz said, "is that I can get back sooner rather than later."
• Triple-A Memphis moved into first place in the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division with a 7-3 win over Oklahoma City on Saturday. Because the Redbirds won the series against second-place Omaha, they own the tiebreaker advantage and therefore have a magic number of one with two days remaining in the season.
Greg Garcia and Chad Huffman contributed home runs in the win, which was the ninth in 13 games for Memphis.
• The Cardinals' short-season affiliate in State College claimed the first Pinckney Division championship (New York-Penn League) in Spikes franchise history with a 7-4 victory on Saturday. The club opens a best-of-three semifinal playoff series on Friday.
• New Pirate Justin Morneau said he exchanged a few texts with former Major Leaguer Larry Walker on Saturday night. During that exchange, Walker shared the story of his August trade to the Cardinals in 2004.
"He let me know he struck out in his first at-bat with the Cardinals and got a standing ovation," Morneau said. "He said, 'Try to top that.'"
• The Reds have announced the following pitching probables for the Cardinals' upcoming trip to Cincinnati: Mat Latos (13-5, 3.03 ERA) on Monday, Homer Bailey (9-10, 3.55) on Tuesday, Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 3.66) on Wednesday and Tony Cingrani (6-3, 2.76) on Thursday.
• Right-hander Michael Blazek has been sent to the Brewers as the player to be named in the trade that brought right-handed reliever John Axford to the Cardinals on Friday. Blazek made 11 relief appearances for the Cardinals this season and posted a 6.97 ERA. After MLB.com's midseason re-rankings, Blazek was listed as the organization's fifth-best Minor League prospect.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.