Greene called up, starts for Cards

Greene called up, starts for Cards

WASHINGTON -- The talk early this season has been about the Cardinals' 13-man mix-and-match bullpen and how its success has contributed to the team's 15-7 start, best in the big leagues.

Now the Cards will try to use some of that patchwork magic on their infield.

Shortstop Tyler Greene, a first-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Georgia Tech, is the newest member of the system to be added to the equation.

Greene was recalled on Thursday from Triple-A Memphis when the Cardinals placed infielder Brendan Ryan on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring suffered Wednesday night as he tried to beat out an infield bouncer.

Ryan himself had been starting in place of ailing shortstop Khalil Greene, who has been hampered by a right forearm strain.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wasted no time throwing Greene into the mix, penciling him into the eighth spot in the starting lineup.

"It comes at a good time for him because he's been playing well at Triple-A in all respects -- defensively, offensively and running the bases," said La Russa. "But usually when you bring someone up, it's because you need him and we've got two shortstops hurt, so it's good to get him out there."

Tyler Greene, 25, was the club's second of two first-round picks in '05 (the other being current rookie outfielder Colby Rasmus, taken two picks earlier at No. 28).

At the time of his promotion, he was hitting .296 in 19 games with Memphis with two homers and nine RBIs, boasting a .412 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage.

He got the call at about 11 p.m. CT at his Memphis apartment Wednesday night.

Within hours, he was on a flight to Washington, D.C., accompanied by his wife. Meanwhile, his dad was flying into town from his home in Florida to watch his son make his big league debut.

Greene didn't know he'd be starting until he walked into the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Stadium and saw his name written into the lineup tacked on the bulletin board near the door.

"I was a little shocked, but also excited," said the soft-spoken Greene. "It's nice to get right into it and get acclimated as fast as possible and then go on from there."

Though the right-handed hitter has played all but four games at shortstop in his first four pro seasons, he'd been seeing some time at second and third as well, so his presence maintains the versatility that La Russa has established on his four-man bench, an unusual balance necessitated by the decision to go with a 13-man pitching staff for the time being.

"He's a real good fit for what we're trying to do here," La Russa said. "It gives him a chance to contribute and also gives Khalil a chance to get well."

Though Ryan was technically Khalil Greene's replacement at short, he'd been one of the recent sparkplugs of the team and was hitting .250 in 19 games, seeing time at both short and second.

With Khalil Greene's status day-to-day, the Cards had to make a move to shore up the middle infield, and "the other Greene" was the obvious choice.

Khalil Greene, though not in danger at this point of joining Ryan on the DL, was expected to miss at least the first two games of the Washington series. Acquired from San Diego in an offseason trade, he was hitting .219 with five errors through 17 games.

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