ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' problematic bullpen got a fresh face on Monday, as right-hander Seth Maness was in uniform (No. 61) for the start of the club's series against the Reds.
Lefty Marc Rzepczynski was optioned to Triple-A in order to create space on the 25-man roster. Maness, who was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, also had to be added to the 40-man roster, which is now full.
Initially scheduled to start for Memphis on Monday, Maness was told after Sunday's doubleheader that he'd instead be spending the evening available out of the Cardinals' bullpen. This is his first Major League callup.
"It's quite a feeling, a rush, a lot of emotions running through you, for sure," Maness said. "I'm just happy to be here."
The 24-year-old Maness went 14-4 with a 2.97 ERA last season, which he began in Class A Palm Beach and finished with Double-A Springfield. That earned him a non-roster invitation to Spring Training this year. He was then placed in Triple-A Memphis' rotation to start the season.
In his first four Triple-A starts, spanning 25 innings, Maness allowed 12 earned runs on 34 hits. He recorded 18 strikeouts while walking three. He entered the season with a career 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio; he walked only 10 in 169 2/3 innings last season.
"I think it's something I've been trying to do my whole life -- just filling up the zone," Maness said. "I used to play a little bit of middle infield, and I used to hate pitchers out there walking people. It keeps you busy. and they're more likely to make the plays behind you."
"You can't help but look at his splits and be impressed with what he's been able to do so far in his career," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's not just a strikethrower. He has good stuff, too."
Matheny got an up-close look at Maness during Spring Training, when Maness had the opportunity to adjust to pitching out of the bullpen. Of his 46 career Minor League appearances, 38 have come as a starter.
In deciding who would take Rzepczynski's place on the 25-man roster, the Cardinals liked the fact that Maness was fresh (he last pitched on April 22) and could serve as a long reliever. He will not, however, be pigeonholed into such a role.
The Cardinals' willingness to dip into Memphis' rotation to find big league bullpen help could have led them to other candidates. Lefty John Gast has not allowed an earned run in 29 2/3 innings this season, but he started on Sunday and therefore isn't able to pitch for several days. The Cardinals were also not ready to summon highly touted pitching prospect Michael Wacha, just yet.
"He was pitching in college a year ago," general manager John Mozeliak said of Wacha, the club's top pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. "He's getting his feet wet. He's doing great. He had a wonderful spring. and so far he's had a very nice season. But in terms of pitching in professional baseball, it's new to him."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.Less