BOSTON -- Nick Stavinoha became the latest Cardinal to suit up with a football number this year, but unlike some of his teammates, he probably feels comfortable with a number in the 60s on his jersey. Stavinoha, after all, played a little college football at the University of Houston before finishing up his college career as a baseball-only slugger at Louisiana State.
And frankly, Stavinoha had no plans to complain about his No. 61 regardless -- he's just thrilled to be in the big leagues. The Cardinals purchased his contract from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday when they placed Cesar Izturis on the 15-day disabled list. Stavinoha got the start at designated hitter, making him the ninth player to make his Major League debut with St. Louis this year.
"Right into it," Stavinoha said. "It's exciting. To get to make a debut, and on top of that, make a debut at Fenway, and on top of that, come up for the first game and get it going [right away]."
Stavinoha is an accomplished hitter, having batted .344 with a .564 slugging percentage in his 2005 professional debut at Class A Quad Cities. He put up lines of .297/.340/.460 (average/on-base/slugging) at Double-A Springfield in 2006 before struggling somewhat at Memphis in '07. But in a return engagement at Memphis, he starred, hitting .346/.375/.519.
"Except for last year, I've always been a .300 guy," Stavinoha said. "Last year, I had some difficulty, but I don't know. I just tried to get back to basics. I'm just trying to barrel balls up, not steer it and not worry about what's going to happen. Just try to hit the ball hard."
Though he didn't enter the season as one of the better-known prospects at Memphis, his performance got him to the big leagues.
"He'll take a tough at-bat," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's definitely earned the promotion, so it's the best of all worlds. He gets right in there. I'm looking forward to seeing him."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.