Thompson to start after 16-game layoff

Thompson to start after 16-game layoff

ST. LOUIS -- Brad Thompson will do something on Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds that he hasn't done in 16 days -- appear in a game.

Needing a starter to fill an open spot in the rotation, the Cardinals decided to give Thompson the start instead of calling up someone from the Minor Leagues.

Thompson, who hasn't pitched since May 17 against the Milwaukee Brewers, is on the Cardinals roster primarily to be an innings eater in case a starter has a rough outing and departs early. But since the Cardinals rotation has had a string of strong starts and the team is carrying eight relievers, Thompson has been the odd man out.

Thompson has made 24 starts with the Cardinals since 2005 -- most of which have come in the same emergency capacity -- making him an easy choice for manager Tony La Russa to pencil in for Tuesday.

"That's one reason we're comfortable with giving him the ball," La Russa said. "He's experienced this and he's handled it very well. There really hasn't been a situation that he hasn't handled. He goes out there and gives you what he's got.

"He's got real good experience at having unusual kind of assignments, pitching a lot or pitching a little. He has a real strong head about all of that stuff, so I think he will be ready to go."

Thompson, who had a 57 1/3-inning scoreless streak in the Minors in 2003-04, has continued to throw bullpen sessions while not appearing in games, but knows that things will be different once he takes the Busch Stadium mound at 7:15 p.m. CT.

"Obviously, command is going to be a challenge," Thompson said. "Hopefully that's something that I can iron out early, in the bullpen before the game. For me, it's going to be consistency, just getting in that little groove, and that might be hard to do in the beginning."

The Cardinals have won 17 of Thompson's 24 career starts, but Thompson has a better ERA by more than a run when pitching in relief. Regardless, he's just happy to actually get on the mound and pitch for real.

"It's going to be nice to get into a game," Thompson said. "Just getting out there and being in game situations, but obviously I've done it before and hopefully I'll get to build on a couple innings and make some adjustments.

"I don't know what kind of pitch count they have for me. I'll pitch until they take the ball away."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Brad Thompson (0-1, 4.30 ERA)
With Kyle Lohse still on the shelf with soreness in his right forearm, the Cardinals will turn to Thompson to make his first start of the season. The Dixie State product won two of his final three starts last year despite an irregular schedule. He's unbeaten in 19 appearances -- four starts -- against the Reds with an ERA of 3.70. Thompson hasn't pitched in a game in over two weeks.

CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-3, 5.12 ERA)
In his first complete game of the season and seventh of his career, Arroyo gave up five hits -- four singles and a double -- with one walk and three strikeouts for an easy 6-1 win over the Astros on Wednesday. He had only 79 pitches through eight innings and finished with 92 pitches. In the start before that vs. Cleveland, he gave up one earned run over eight innings. Arroyo has yet to get a no-decision. He's figured in the outcome of all 10 of his starts.

Double-A Springfield pitcher Lance Lynn, a first-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was named the organization's Pitcher of the Month for May. Lynn went 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in five starts. Class A catcher Charles Cutler was named the Player of the Month with a .410 batting average and 21 RBIs in 26 games.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 4-3, 3.98) vs. Reds (Johnny Cueto, 4-3, 2.53), 7:15 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 3-0, 0.62) vs. Reds (Aaron Harang, 5-5, 4.19), 7:15 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 5-3, 3.38) vs. Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 0-6, 5.43), 7:15 p.m. CT

B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.