"We just figured we would give him two weeks and feel as confident as you can be that 15 days from now, you'll be able to work him back into the rotation," La Russa said. "He's got almost as many innings (this year) as he's had his whole career. It was something we would not push."
Looper moved to the rotation this year after spending his first nine seasons as a reliever. He has already pitched 83 innings this year, after pitching just 73 1/3 last season
The right-hander started the season hot, going 5-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.29. Since then, his ERA has climbed to 4.66 on the season, and he's 6-6. In his last start, he gave up seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Cate is making his second appearance with the Cards this season. His first didn't last long, as he only pitched 2 1/3 innings in two appearances. La Russa didn't rule out that Cate could eventually make his way into the starting rotation, but said he will be in the bullpen for the next six games.
"I've repeated this thing for so many times but it continues to be true. We've got KC for 3 games, we've got three starting pitchers, so that's what we're thinking about," La Russa said. "Cate's a reliever for the week."
Wells still a starter: With Looper going on the DL, Kip Wells will stay in the Cardinals rotation -- for now. Wells will start Tuesday's game against the Royals with Brad Thompson following on Wednesday.
La Russa admitted that he would have liked to move Wells to the bullpen for a short time to try and allow the starter to regroup mentally, but didn't have that choice after having to move Looper to the DL.
"If we hadn't lost Braden, [Wells] probably would have taken a stretch in the bullpen. But we don't have that alternative," La Russa said. "He's fighting confidence and all those things that go into a hitter or pitcher's mind. You just try to take a little step by little step and try to build on some success. But he's healthy, he's motivated, but he's got an awful big hill to climb and the only way to attempt it is to just have a solid game on Tuesday."
Wells is 2-11 on the season with a 6.93 ERA in 14 starts. His last start against the Royals on June 14th was his worst yet. The righty went just 1 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on three hits and four walks.
Wells was available out of the bullpen over the weekend in Oakland, but wasn't used. Thompson pitched two innings of relief on Saturday, so La Russa wanted to give him an extra day before making a start.
Ankiel watch: La Russa said the team would have liked to call up outfielder Rick Ankel from Memphis to fill in for Edmonds, but because he's not on the 40-man roster, the team opted not to.
Since Ankiel is not on the 40-man roster, he would have to clear waivers if he was sent down to Memphis after being called up. La Russa said they wouldn't call him up until he was able to play every day and get consistent at-bats and stay with the big-league club.
"We talk about Rick a lot, but every day that he has four at-bats [in Memphis] he's closer to getting to the big leagues and staying here," La Russa said. "Not having flexibility with him is a big problem right now."
La Russa said that if he was on the 40-man roster, the team would have recalled him to play for Edmonds while he is on the DL. The manager said it would have been "fun" to watch him play.
Ankiel is hitting .286 in Memphis with a league-leading 19 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Carp update: Chris Carpenter threw off a mound on Sunday in Oakland and is on pace to do so again sometime this week.
La Russa said Carpenter would either throw on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, depending on how many days of rest the trainers felt Carpenter should have. La Russa said the righty was encouraged after his first throw on Sunday.
Spiezio at second: After pitching an inning over the weekend for the first time in his career, Scott Spiezio was at second base on Monday for the first time this season. He has played 312 games at second in his career.
With David Eckstein on the disabled list, and second baseman Adam Kennedy struggling against lefties, La Russa opted for a double-play tandem of Spiezio and Aaron Miles, rather than using Kennedy or Brendan Ryan.
"He's hitting well from right side. He DH'ed against left-handers in Oakland but there's no DH here," La Russa said. "He hit second and sparked our offense. He'll compete."
Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis beat Iowa, 5-4, on Sunday. Four Redbirds hit home runs including Skip Schumaker, who was called up to the big-league team after the game. Schumaker went 2-for-4 with a homer. Edgar Gonzalez, Ryan Christanson and Tagg Bozied all homered as well. Mike Smith got the win, going six innings and giving up two runs on seven hits. ... Double-A Springfield lost to Arkansas, 6-1. Jaime Garcia fell to 3-6 on the season, giving up three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Springfield's only run came on a solo home run from Michael Ferris. ... Class A Palm Beach is in the middle of the all-star break. The club returned to action on Monday. ... Class A Quad Cities beat Beloit, 6-2. P.J Walters moved to 6-1 on the season, going five innings and giving up two runs and striking out six. Christian Lopez went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.
Coming up: The Cards and Royals will continue their three-game series Tuesday night. The Cards will send Wells to the mound while the Royals will counter with Scott Elarton. Game time is set for 7:10 p.m. CT.