JUPITER, Fla. -- With four Grapefruit League games remaining, the Cardinals pared their spring roster down to 35 players by cutting five on Sunday.
Infielder Greg Garcia, outfielder Joey Butler and lefty reliever Sam Freeman were optioned to Triple-A. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who signed with the club on March 9, was optioned to Double-A, where he will begin the season. And Luis Mateo, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, was reassigned to Minor League camp.
Garcia can play three infield positions, but the organization is most likely to use him at second base in Triple-A since Pete Kozma is projected to be Memphis' starting shortstop. Mateo, too, will offer defensive versatility in the Memphis infield.
Butler will begin the season in Memphis, but with an undefined role. The Cardinals are expected to feature a Triple-A outfield of prospects -- Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk -- which would make Butler a fourth outfielder. He went 4-for-19 this spring.
Diaz, after signing on March 9 and going to Mexico to obtain a work visa, was able to play in two Grapefruit League games since returning. He went 3-for-5, but the Cardinals felt it necessary to get him to Minor League camp soon so that he can play regularly.
"I know the value we got was to watch him -- how he handles his batting practice, how he handles his work, how he handles instruction with [infield coach Jose Oquendo]," Matheny said. "All the way across was very impressive. You see a guy walk into the box not afraid in a big league spring game. He was very consistent with his approach at the plate, as well as what he was doing in the field. So it was a nice look for us."
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.