"We don't want him to regress, and we think he has [in] his last couple of starts," La Russa said. "He has to experience some positive results. He's still an important part of our future."
In Reyes' last outing, he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals. The start before that, in Detroit, the site of his win in the World Series, Reyes gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings on nine hits. The 25-year-old went 6-1 with a 2.57 ERA in Memphis last season in 13 starts before getting recalled.
Todd Wellemeyer will take Reyes' spot in the rotation and start on Wednesday against the Rockies in Colorado. Wellemeyer was claimed off waivers from the Royals on May 15 and has been pitching out of the bullpen. In 6 2/3 innings, Wellemeyer has posted a 2.70 ERA with nine strikeouts. Wednesday will mark the first Major League start of his career, although he was a starter in the Minor Leagues.
"I'm pretty excited about it," Wellemeyer said. "It's going to be good to get a feel for all my pitches."
Wellemeyer said he got word of the move before the game on Sunday. He threw 12 pitches in Saturday night's game and was preparing to pitch on Sunday when he was told he was being moved to the rotation.
The right-hander struggled in 12 appearances in Kansas City, compiling an ERA of 10.34 while walking 11 in 15 2/3 innings. He has walked just one hitter since coming over to St. Louis.
Wellemeyer said pitching coach Dave Duncan is still in observation mode with him and hasn't done anything with his mechanics yet. He's looking forward to working with him and readying for his first big-league start.
"He's the best there is," Wellemeyer said. "Tony's a great manager [for] the pitchers, also. It's a great situation. I'm real happy about it."
La Russa said Wellemeyer has enough pitches to be an effective starter and he likes what he has seen from the righty in his career.
"I think he's strong. He has three excellent pitches, and we have a need," La Russa said. "We go by what we saw. We have always liked him."
Wellemeyer, who broke into the big leagues in 2003 with the Cubs, has made 119 relief appearances over four-plus seasons. He has a lifetime ERA of 5.55 over 185 innings.
The Cardinals now have four converted relievers in their starting rotation -- Braden Looper, Adam Wainwright, Brad Thompson and now Wellemeyer. The Cards no longer have a single current member of the rotation who was part of last year's World Series rotation. Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver all signed elsewhere in the offseason, and Chris Carpenter is on the disabled list.
Cate, who posted a 4.54 ERA in Memphis this season, was called up for the first time in his career. The lefty was available for Sunday's game.
"He'll be in our bullpen, and we'll see how he handles it," La Russa said. "He's got some good stuff."
Big three rolling: The Cards have gotten a big boost from Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds so far on their current homestand. After starting the season slowly, the three have come on recently and are a combined 19-for-46 with 10 runs, three home runs and nine RBIs in the first five games of this homestand.
Entering Sunday, Edmonds and Rolen both had their averages up to .231 after dropping below .200 earlier this month. Pujols' average was .291 entering Sunday after a low of .239 on May 14.
"That's how we get eight runs [on Saturday], the guys in the middle," La Russa said. "They had a bunch of clutch hits. But if no one sets the table, then it doesn't mean much."
Edmonds has two home runs on the homestand, after hitting just one in his first 35 games.
Eck scratched: Shortstop David Eckstein was scratched from the Cards lineup about a half hour before Sunday's game. La Russa said Eckstein has tightness in his middle back. It tightened up in the seventh inning of Saturday's game.
"It didn't loosen up before the game," La Russa said. "There were too many things he couldn't do. I think it's still bothering him."
La Russa wasn't sure whether Eckstein would be back in the lineup for Monday afternoon's game against the Rockies.
Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis lost to Round Rock on Saturday night, 3-1. Mike Parisi went six innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and walking one. Outfielder Nick Stavinoha had another multi-hit game, this time going 2-for-4 with a double. Left fielder John Nelson had the team's only RBI. ... Double-A Springfield lost to Corpus Christi, 2-1. Starter Jaime Garcia pitched well in the loss, going 6 2/3 innings while giving up one earned run and striking out seven. Jarrett Hoffpauir and Cody Haerther each had three hits in the loss. ... Class A Palm Beach beat Lakeland, 9-6. Shortstop Jose Martinez went 2-for-5 with his first home run of the season and drove in three runs. Mark Hamilton went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Fernando Salas picked up the win in relief, his first of the season. ... Class A Quad Cities lost to Beloit, 5-2. Starter Blake King gave up four runs in the first inning and only lasted two-thirds of an inning. Brandon Buckman went 2-for-4 with an RBI. James Rapoport also added two hits.
Player of the day honors go to Garcia, despite picking up the loss. Like player of the day winner Blake Hawksworth earlier in the week, Garcia is pitching better than his record indicates. In his last start, Garcia suffered similar tough luck when he went seven innings, giving up just one run on two hits, but was still saddled with the loss. The 20-year-old, 1-5 on the season, is sporting a 3.55 ERA.
Coming up: The Cards will travel to Denver to start a four-game series against the Rockies on Monday. Kip Wells will start the opener for the Cards while the Rockies will send lefty Jeff Francis to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT.