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Versatile Garcia joins Cards in utility role

Versatile Garcia joins Cards in utility role

ST. LOUIS -- Seeking a utility infielder for their bench, the Cardinals dipped into their Triple-A depth on Tuesday and plucked Greg Garcia for the second time this season. He took the roster spot of Mark Ellis, who was placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.

Garcia, who was with the Cardinals for two weeks in April/May, gives the Cardinals another left-handed bat off the bench and a player who can move around to cover any of the infield positions. He's played primarily at second this year, but is a natural shortstop and has continued to take ground balls at third to be ready in case he's needed there.

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"I think he's had the kind of year that deserves to get an opportunity to help us," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's had a nice season and is a pretty versatile guy."

In 103 games with Triple-A Memphis, Garcia hit .273 with 40 RBIs. He's had an especially strong run since the All-Star break, batting .326 with 19 runs and 12 RBIs in 29 games. He will not continue to get those everyday at-bats at the Major League level, but will have an opportunity to contribute off the bench.

"It's about embracing a role but not accepting it," Garcia said. "I think we all want to be starters at some point in our careers. It's about getting your foot in the door. Right now, I know what my role is and I want to do the best that I can for this team to help them win."

Asked why the Cardinals opted to summon Garcia instead of the right-handed-hitting infielder Pete Kozma (who is also already on the 40-man roster), Matheny said the organization values keeping Kozma in a place where he can get everyday repetitions at shortstop.

"If something did happen here, we know we have someone who has been playing on a consistent basis who can be plugged in here," Matheny said. "He's a guy that we know can play great defense. Pete is somebody we'll keep sharp just in case we need him."

Kozma will likely be among those players added in September when rosters expand beyond 25.

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.

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