MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The scheduled exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and their Triple-A Memphis farm club was rained out Friday night.
A near-capacity crowd of 13,000 had been expected at AutoZone Park in Memphis for what would have been the Cardinals' first game there since 2009. The team did take batting practice, and players such as outfielder Matt Holliday and infielder Matt Carpenter stopped on the dugout steps to sign autographs for fans.
The grounds crew placed the tarp on the field about 40 minutes before the scheduled start, and rain began falling soon afterward. Thunder and lightning followed and there was standing water on the warning track when the game was canceled.
Joe Kelly, who was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA last season, had been scheduled to start for St. Louis.
The Cardinals announced they will schedule an exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park next season.
The Cardinals sent down three relievers to Memphis, making it a short trip for them. The players carried their St. Louis equipment bags from the visitors' clubhouse around a corner and down a hallway past the indoor batting cages to the Triple-A team's clubhouse.
Right-hander Keith Butler, who had a 4.05 ERA in 16 appearances last season with the Cardinals, won the last bullpen job with the big league club. Right-handers David Aardsma, Scott McGregor and Jorge Rondon were told they will start the season in Memphis.
Rondon had a 0.00 ERA in nine spring training appearances. Butler's ERA in the spring was 8.38. Rondon had a 3.06 ERA in 51 relief appearances for Memphis last season.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said being more familiar with Butler "definitely played into" the decision to keep him, adding, "We know he can go multiple innings."
The Cardinals signed the veteran Aardsma to a minor league deal after Cleveland released him. He struggled with his control in two spring training appearances.