ST. LOUIS -- The acquisition of Edwin Jackson provides an upgrade for the Cardinals in two areas, the club hopes. In addition to adding Jackson to the starting rotation, the move returns Kyle McClellan to the bullpen, and possibly even to the ninth inning.
McClellan was an extremely effective reliever for the Cardinals from 2009-11, but when Adam Wainwright went down for the year with an elbow injury, he moved into the starting rotation. Now that Jackson is on board, McClellan will return to his familiar place in the relief corps. It wouldn't be his first choice, but he's not fretting.
"I don't feel that I pitched my way out of the job," McClellan said. "You're playing for a team that's competing for a championship, and if they think they can improve the club a little bit one way or the other, they're going to do it. I feel confident that I've proven -- not only to myself, but to the organization -- that I can be a starting pitcher in this league."
Manager Tony La Russa declined to say how he will handle the ninth inning now that McClellan and Octavio Dotel have been added to his bullpen. But it seems evident that McClellan will at least be part of the mix.
who's going where?
|Cardinals||Blue Jays||White Sox|
|Octavio Dotel||Trever Miller||Jason Frasor|
|Edwin Jackson||Colby Rasmus||Zach Stewart|
|Corey Patterson||Brian Tallet|
|Marc Rzepczynski||Mark Teahen|
|3 PTBNL or cash||P.J. Walters|
"I think you can expect Kyle to have a very important role late in the game," La Russa said.
Pressed directly as to whether Fernando Salas is still his primary closer, La Russa did not commit.
"I'm just going to go with who's available," he said. "I have no problem picking either one of those guys [Salas or McClellan], because they both can get hitters from both sides of the plate out."
The opportunity to close certainly makes the move more palatable to McClellan, who pitched primarily as a setup man the past three seasons. He has six Major League saves and 39 games finished.
"I don't think there's anything that shows I can't do that," McClellan said. "I've done it when [former closer Ryan Franklin] needed days off. I feel confident I can do it. But it just depends on situations and all that kind of stuff that comes into play. But I definitely wouldn't shy away from it and would definitely welcome it."
McClellan was initially scheduled to throw a bullpen session between starts on Wednesday, so as to be available as a backup plan in case Kyle Lohse was unable to pitch on Saturday. Lohse is dealing with soreness in his right middle finger. However, the club is confident that Lohse will be able to pitch, so when La Russa posted his lineup card, McClellan was listed as an available reliever.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.