Cards make room for Arthur Rhodes

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals made a couple roster moves to create space for reliever Arthur Rhodes and welcomed Matt Holliday back to the lineup.

Holliday, the cleanup hitter, missed the previous two games after tweaking his lower back in the weight room. Manager Tony La Russa said Holliday gave him the "thumbs up" after taking early batting practice before Friday night's game against the Colorado Rockies.

Rhodes joined the Cardinals in time for a three-game series against Colorado, although he threw 30 to 40 pitches in the bullpen and didn't think he'd be available until Saturday. The left-hander was released by the Texas Rangers earlier this week and said the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and one other team he couldn't recall had offered him a job.

Rhodes said comments from La Russa helped him decide. The Cardinals had tried to acquire Rhodes in the past and La Russa said Friday he's always admired Rhodes' longevity.

Rhodes had appeared in 881 games, 29th on the career list and second among active pitchers behind the Yankees' Mariano Rivera (1,025).

"To tell you the truth, Tony was talking about me, talking great stuff about me," Rhodes said. "I know there was a lot of teams out there wanting me, but I wanted to come over here and play."

Rhodes also likes the Cardinals' chances of winning the NL Central. St. Louis was four games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

"I think this team can make it. I know this game can make it," Rhodes said.

The Cardinals now have two lefties, and La Russa said Marc Rzepczynski would now be free to work longer outings.

Rookie catcher Tony Cruz was optioned to Triple-A Memphis and minor league left-hander Raul Valdes was designated for assignment to make room for Rhodes on the 40-man roster.

Cruz has been effective as the third catcher, batting .258 with six RBIs in 62 at-bats, and La Russa said he would be among the September callups.