Cardinals replace Adams with unlikely callup

ST. LOUIS -- It was at nearly the identical point of the season last year that Jermaine Curtis, after being called into the office of Triple-A Memphis manager Ron "Pop" Warner, learned he was being sent back down to Double-A. He would never make it back up in 2012, finishing the season in Springfield, where he would go on to be named a Texas League All-Star.

And so it was understandable that upon Warner's similar office summons Thursday, Curtis briefly wondered if he would be hearing such news again. Curtis shook the thought immediately, he said, and after a requisite prank from Warner, he was told to prepare to depart for St. Louis on Friday.

With Matt Adams (right oblique strain) landing on the disabled list, the Cardinals had made the corresponding decision to call up Curtis. The 25-year-old UCLA product took a 7 a.m. flight out of Nashville to arrive in time to be available for Friday's series opener against Pittsburgh.

"This is a childhood dream to get the opportunity to come here and be with the best baseball players in the world," said Curtis, whose family is expected to join him in St. Louis over the weekend. "I'm going to learn. If I just come out here and be a cheerleader, I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team."

In finding someone to take Adams' roster spot, the Cardinals looked for a player capable of filling a pinch-hitting role. They found that fit in Curtis, who opened the Triple-A season 14-for-48 and with a team-best 17 RBIs.

In 2012, Curtis led the Double-A Texas League in on-base percentage (.416) while hitting .313 for Springfield. That was after he began the year in Memphis and hit .276 in 17 games. He finished his year by playing another 53 winter ball games in Mexico.

By earning his first Major League callup, Curtis arrives in St. Louis before several other position players who, unlike him, had participated in Major League camp this spring. The Cardinals had not delivered a similar invite to Curtis primarily because they did not see enough playing time available to him.

"He's a guy who has done enough to deserve this," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just worked himself into being considered for this. That's what the dream of playing professional ball is all about. You go and play wherever they tell you to play, and you produce and you never know when you're playing the right kind of baseball at the right time that you get the opportunities."

Curtis was thrilled, too, to see that the Cardinals had provided him with uniform No. 55, the number he said he told his teammates Thursday that he hoped to get. He knew his favorite number -- 5 -- would be unavailable, for obvious reasons.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.