Cardinals pitcher Jerome Williams takes winding path

NEW YORK -- Jerome Williams is a baseball survivor. A former first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants, his career took some wide turns in the midst of a 10-year major league career.

He made stops in Mayaguez, Mexicali, Magallanes and played for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League and the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Now, he is back in the major leagues, called up by the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday just in case they need a long reliever in the next few days.

“Hopefully, we don’t need Jerome,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny admitted. “I’d love to see our starters all go out and sail, but the likelihood we’ll need some arms down there is pretty high.”

A 16-inning game and starter Mike Mayers lasting just 1 1/3 innings prompted the crisis that landed Williams once again in a major league clubhouse. He got the text from his Triple-A Memphis manager late Sunday and beat most of his new Cardinal teammates, who endured a difficult trip to New York, to the clubhouse at Citi Field. When Cardinals players arrived, many of the veterans walked over to Williams to introduce themselves.

Williams, 34, went 4-12 with a 5.80 ERA for the Philadelphia Phillies last season. The Cardinals signed him as minor league depth after he threw for their scouts a few months ago.

Williams is best known nowadays for always pitching with a pink glove. It is a tribute to his mother, Deborah, who died of breast cancer in 2001 when Williams was at Double-A. The Giants gave him permission to leave the team for a while and he was able to spend time and repair his relationship with his mother before she died.

“That’s the only reason I’m still playing is because of that glove,” Williams said.

Williams estimates he has had 12 pink gloves since he first ordered one from a Japanese equipment maker and started using it while with the Angels in 2011. He often gives them away to children. He said he’ll keep pitching as long as teams keep giving him contracts.

“Now, it’s like I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I’ll just keep on playing until I can’t play any more.”