Cardinals "intensify search" for third baseman, reportedly eye Brandon Inge

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Yesterday the Cardinals moved Opening Day third baseman David Freese to the 60-day disabled list and gave 25-year-old rookie Allen Craig his first career start at the hot corner. And in related news, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that they have “intensified a search for help at the position.”
Tony La Russa said just last week that using Craig at third base “would be the worst thing for him and the team,” but with Freese out for the season with a broken ankle and veteran fill-in Felipe Lopez disappointing both offensively and defensively the manager quickly changed his mind. For now at least.

I don’t think this is really doing [Craig] a justice. It’s one of those moves you make because you have to make it, not because you want to make it. I don’t hesitate to make it because I really think this guy is a gamer, a talented gamer. It’s not really good for our club if he has to do it. He’s a very tough guy. He’s unafraid. We’ll see if we need to throw him out there again.

Craig made an error on the only ball hit to him yesterday, although Strauss described it as “a two-hop, ninth-inning smash.”
As for who the Cardinals are targeting as a longer-term answer at third base, Strauss reports that “the club retains interest in” Brandon Inge, an impending free agent with about $1.5 million left on his contract. With the Tigers three games below .500 and 10.5 games out of first place they’ll no doubt try to pass Inge through waivers to set up a trade, but he may be claimed before getting to the Cardinals.

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.