OAKLAND, Calif. - St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a lower back strain, and the Cardinals called up Brendan Ryan from Triple-A Memphis to start in his place.
Eckstein left Wednesday's game at Kansas City with tightness in his lower back and sat out Thursday against the Royals and again in Friday's series opener with Oakland. Manager The move is retroactive to June 14, and Tony La Russa believes Eckstein will be back in the minimum time.
"We are really encouraged," La Russa said. "He's feeling better, but he's got enough bumps and bruises that if we don't give him an extended period, he's going to have a lot of lingering aches."
St. Louis also brought up right-hander Anthony Reyes and optioned righty reliever Kelvin Jimenez to Memphis. Reyes - who won the World Series opener for the Cardinals last fall but has lost 10 straight regular-season decisions and was demoted to the minors - is scheduled to start Sunday against the Athletics in place of Brad Thompson, who will be available out of the bullpen.
Reyes found out around midnight Saturday morning he was being called up. Memphis was playing in Iowa and he got about an hour of sleep before flying to the Bay Area. Reyes said he talked about pitching with new reliever Troy Percival, who signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals on June 8 and reported to Memphis.
"It's different pitching down there than it is up here," Reyes said.
Eckstein, who also was bothered by tightness in his lower back late last month, is not expected to need a rehab assignment before rejoining the Cardinals.
"He's experienced enough that when he gets closer, in a week or 10-to-12 days, he will have an extensive workout and be ready," La Russa said.
Eckstein is hitting .313 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 192 at-bats.
Braden Looper remained a question mark to make his next scheduled start Wednesday, though the team probably won't know more about his status until he is seen by a team doctor once back home. He started Friday's 14-3 loss, but had to leave with tightness in his right shoulder in the fifth.