Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kelly May Be Trade Bait for Cards; Notebook; Redbirds Express Interested in Tampa Bay Pitcher Shields; BASEBALL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kelly May Be Trade Bait for Cards; Notebook; Redbirds Express Interested in Tampa Bay Pitcher Shields; BASEBALL

Article excerpt

CHICAGO - Rookie Joe Kelly gave the Cardinals the longest appearance of his brief major-league career Saturday in addition to his seventh consecutive quality start. Where that leaves Kelly is for now a riddle.

Manager Mike Matheny declined to say after his team's 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs what Kelly's standing within the rotation may be. Kelly, who assumed Jaime Garcia's spot in the rotation after the lefthander landed on the disabled list in June because of shoulder tightness, is the team's de facto fifth starter. That means he probably would be bumped if general manager John Mozeliak traded for starting pitching before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.

In some scenarios, it could mean Kelly himself is in play. The Cardinals remain players for Tampa Bay starting pitcher James Shields and had expressed interest in Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, but he was traded Saturday night to the Chicago White Sox. The Rays are committed to acquiring major-league talent for Shields, who is under control through 2014. Shields is an innings monster who offers the kind of short-term flexibility the Cards seek as an alternative to long-term commitments to free agents.

Kelly, 24, is 1-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 51 2/3 innings covering nine starts. Saturday's 6 1/3 innings pitched followed a string of six- inning outings.

"He's pitched great for us, so we just keep going," Matheny said. "Once again, there are a lot of different things going on and that potentially could go on. We could progress with what we have and be very content with what we've got. If you go out and give us quality starts, that's all you can ask."

Making his Wrigley Field debut off what many pitchers consider an awkward mound, Kelly held the Cubs to two hits in his final 5 1/3 innings. He suffered the loss when a runner he left behind scored on a seventh-inning bunt.

"Wins and losses are out of my control," Kelly said.

Matheny hedged slightly when asked if he'd be comfortable with Kelly as part of the rotation for the rest of the season.

Garcia is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Monday, for the Cardinals' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Jupiter, Fla. Barring a setback, he projects for a mid-August return to the rotation. …

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