He joined his new team on Friday and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Wilson batted sixth and played right field, with Juan Encarnacion moving to center field. St. Louis has a major question mark in its outfield with Jim Edmonds sidelined indefinitely due to post-concussion syndrome.
"He fits," said manager Tony La Russa of Wilson. "We've had trouble against left-handed starters. We've always respected the way he competes. I think he'll fit in starting, and when he doesn't start, he'll hit off the bench."
In order to make room for Wilson on the roster, right-hander Anthony Reyes was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Wilson is a former All-Star who has hit 25 home runs or more four times in nine big league seasons. He's a career .265 hitter with a .330 on-base percentage and .470 slugging percentage, but he struggled with Houston this year. Wilson put up a line of .269/.309/.405 for the Astros, playing almost exclusively left field.
"I don't really know why it went the way it went," he said, "but the organization, it's their prerogative. That's behind me now and here I am.
The Cardinals intend to use Wilson at the corner outfield spots more than in center field. He's made more than 800 starts in center in his career, but only three in the past two years.
"I'm just trying to add what I can add and help out wherever. They've got a great team, a great system working here, and I don't want to do anything that would take away from that."
Said La Russa: "He could play center if he had to, but I think he's played more in the corners lately and that's the best place to put him."
Mulder mixed: The demotion of Reyes is a clear indication that the Cardinals intend to return Mark Mulder to their rotation next week. But Mulder didn't make that a slam-dunk in his third rehabilitation start, on Thursday night for Memphis against Oklahoma.
Mulder threw 92 pitches, 50 strikes, over four innings. He allowed seven base hits, five runs -- four earned -- and five walks, striking out three and permitting a two-run homer to Joaquin Arias. The left-hander returned from Oklahoma City to join his teammates in Chicago on Friday.
"The results were mixed," La Russa said. "I don't want to break it down any more than that."
Mulder has been out since June 22 with impingement in his left shoulder and irritation and inflammation in his left rotator cuff.
This date in Cardinals history: On Aug. 18, 1966, Bob Gibson came out on the losing end of a classic pitching matchup. Gibson went seven innings, striking out six and allowing five hits, but taking the loss in a 3-1 defeat to the Dodgers. Don Drysdale went the distance for Los Angeles, allowing six hits, racking up eight Ks and not issuing a walk. Thanks to Project Retrosheet (www.retrosheet.org) for the information.
Baby 'Birds: Mulder took the loss as Memphis fell, 5-2, to Oklahoma on Thursday. Jorge Toca went 2-for-5. ... Blake Hawksworth pitched seven two-hit innings, Cody Haerther collected three base hits and Amaury Marti hit his sixth home run as Double-A Springfield beat Frisco, 5-1. ... Class A Palm Beach's game against Lakeland was rained out. ... Adam Ottavino deserved much better, but he was the losing pitcher in Class A Quad Cities' 5-0 loss to Beloit. Ottavino allowed one run on four hits over five innings. Bryan Anderson had two of QC's five hits. ... Donovan Solano's three hits supported Matthew Lane, who didn't allow an earned run over seven innings, as short-season State College beat Aberdeen, 3-2. Lane stuck out seven and didn't walk a batter. ... Mark Shorey's two-run homer wasn't enough for rookie-level Johnson City, which lost to Greeneville, 5-4.
If Ottavino couldn't get a win, he at least picks up player of the day recognition. The right-hander, St. Louis' first pick in this year's draft, struck out six and walked one over his five frames. In five starts since a promotion to full-season ball, Ottavino has a 3.97 ERA and 20 strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings, but he has issued 14 walks.
Coming up: Saturday brings a 12:20 p.m CT start at Wrigley, and a regional broadcast on the FOX Network. Jeff Suppan will take the mound for the visiting Redbirds, going up against Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.