Fowler Returns Tonight

(Busch Stadium) After missing the last 12 games on the disabled list with a bone spur on his right heel, Dexter Fowler has been activated by the St. Louis Cardinals and will start tonight against the New York Mets.

“We’ve all seen when he’s going right, how he can be one of those what we called a spark all season,” said Matheny. “When he and Carp are really rolling, you see our offense take off and so hopefully he jumps in. Right before he was hurt, he was in a good place so hopefully he can get back there quickly.”

To make room for Fowler on the active roster, Jose Martinez was optioned to Memphis (AAA).

“Knowing Jose’s past and how hard of a road it was to get here–and that he’s done a nice job, makes it that much more difficult for sure,” said Matheny of breaking the news to the outfielder.

Martinez was hitting .280 with 5 HRs and 17 RBIs in 50 games this season.

With Fowler’s return to the lineup, it meant that a regular outfielder would not be in the starting lineup. Tonight that outfielder is Tommy Pham, who was informed of the news yesterday.

“Who needed the rest the most by the majority of our metrics,” explained Matheny of the decision. “You balance that. It comes down, Stephen was off yesterday. With kind of how we measure how guys are beat down Tommy was at the top of the list, coupled with the fact it hasn’t been many match-ups, but Randal’s had a couple of nice at-bats against deGrom and so all those things were pointing towards Tommy having a day.

“And listen, we’ll probably have this conversation daily–of trying to explain why because one of those guys is going to have to sit. And that’s all there is to it when you have that many outfielders who are playing well and that’s a nice problem to have. Our challenge is going to be keeping them all sharp and ready to go.”

Besides centerfield, both Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham have played significant innings at the corner outfield spots, however Dexter Fowler has played only 1.0 inning in right field during his big league career. That could be changing.

“All we’ve talked about right now centerfield, just trying to get him healthy and see how he’s moving around–but I don’t think we can deny the kind of centerfield Tommy has played,” said Matheny. “Especially as we start coming back and a guy that’s been on the DL, you know he’s not going to be in the lineup everyday. He’s going to need a day here in these next three, then we’ll take a break, and kind of see where we are and regroup at that point.”

photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI

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