Cards sign pair to Minor League deals

Cards sign pair to Minor League deals

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals signed two players to Minor League contracts for 2009 on Tuesday, while details of the organization's Minor League coaching staffs for the upcoming season also began trickling out.

St. Louis signed infielder Joe Thurston and catcher Justin Knoedler to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. Thurston, 29, was once one of the Dodgers' more highly-regarded prospects and is coming off a fine season with the Red Sox's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate. Knoedler came up through the Giants organization, but struggled at the plate for the A's Triple-A Sacramento club in 2008.

Each has had a few cups of coffee in the Majors. Thurston has actually had several, going 15-for-66 in 59 games over parts of five big league seasons. Knoedler is 2-for-18 in 14 games over three seasons.

While Knoedler likely provides depth at Triple-A Memphis, providing a right-handed platoon partner for prospect Bryan Anderson, Thurston could have an outside shot at cracking the big club. Aaron Miles' return is not a certainty after he was non-tendered, so the Cardinals have one open spot for a middle infielder at this point. Other candidates could include Brendan Ryan and Tyler Greene.

Additionally, both Triple-A Memphis and low Class A Quad Cities announced their 2009 coaching staffs on Tuesday. Both staffs will return entirely intact, with Chris Maloney managing Memphis and Steve Dillard helming Quad Cities.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.