ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is fond of Nick Stavinoha. He understands Stavinoha's plight. He appreciates Stavinoha's performance at Triple-A Memphis this year. But that's not enough to earn Stavinoha a callup to the Major Leagues this week.
The Cardinals completed their September roster expansion, and Stavinoha was not a part of it despite a Memphis record 109 RBIs. Of course, neither was Andrew Brown or Mark Hamilton, each of whom posted a higher OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) than Stavinoha.
Part of the problem is simple opportunity -- the Cardinals are overstocked with first basemen and corner outfielders already. Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols are going to play just about every day, and when they don't, Allen Craig is clearly first in line for a chance.
To add to that, Stavinoha is not on the 40-man roster, further increasing the complications if the club wanted to add him.
"I think he's a plus on a big league team," La Russa said. "Just got to get the right fit roster-wise and opportunity-wise. His is not that unusual a situation."
Stavinoha will be eligible for Minor League free agency this winter. Given the lack of openings in the Cardinals organization, it appears likely that he will depart.
"He wants to play in the big leagues," La Russa said. "And he's been with us long enough I'm sure he'd prefer to play here. But he deserves to be in the big leagues, wherever he can get the chance. ... I know there's a big league spot somewhere for him. That, he's earned."
Cardinals announce final September callups
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals announced the remainder of their September callups on Monday, and it's a fairly short list. Infielder Tyler Greene, catcher Tony Cruz and outfielder Adron Chambers will join the club from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, following Memphis' Monday season finale.
Greene and Cruz have both been with the club already this year, while Chambers' first game will be his Major League debut. Chambers, 24, was a 38th-round Draft pick in 2007 who has steadily worked his way up the organizational ladder.
Additionally, Nick Punto will be added to the active roster on Tuesday. Punto has not played for the Cardinals since July 28 due to a strained left oblique muscle. He has been on a rehabilitation assignment at Memphis.
Tuesday's callups will join three other players who were already recalled: pitchers Maikel Cleto and Brandon Dickson and outfielder Shane Robinson.
Molina returns to lineup; Berkman out vs. Wolf
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina returned to the Cardinals' starting lineup on Monday after missing two games due to tightness in his left calf.
Molina had been emphatic that the condition was a minor one, and his return to active duty certainly bears that out. He's having his best offensive season, entering Monday's game with a .294 batting average, .333 on-base percentage and .451 slugging percentage, as well as 12 home runs, 25 doubles and 52 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Lance Berkman was held out of the lineup on Monday. It's largely a product of his struggles against Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf. He's 3-for-32 (.094) in his career against Wolf, including 0-for-5 in 2011.
"He can use a day," manager Tony La Russa said, "and this is the day to give it to him."
Nick Stavinoha doubled twice and drove in three runs, helping Triple-A Memphis beat Nashville, 5-2, on Sunday.
Double-A Springfield committed two errors, issued seven walks and did not draw a walk in a 10-3 loss to Arkansas.
Xavier Scruggs homered and Richard Castillo pitched six strong innings, leading Class A Palm Beach past St. Lucie, 4-1. Castillo allowed a run on four hits, with three walks and two strikeouts.
Class A Quad Cities rallied for three runs in the ninth to force extra innings, but still lost to Peoria, 4-3, in 12. Oscar Taveras was 3-for-6.
Vance Albitz had two hits, two runs and an RBI in short-season Batavia's 4-2 win against Auburn.
Neal Pritchard doubled twice and scored twice as the rookie-level Johnson City Cardinals won the Appalachian League championship. Johnson City beat Bluefield, 4-1, to sweep the best-of-three championship series. It was the team's second straight league title.
The rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals are done for the year.
Nicholas Gillung is the player of the day. The Johnson City starter pitched six one-hit innings, allowing a run with six strikeouts and two walks. Gillung, 22, was a 19th-round Draft pick in June.
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.