Cardinals sign Aardsma, a top-of-the-(alphabetical)-list reliever

David Aardsma enters a mix for a bullpen job that includes Keith Butler, Jorge Rondon and Scott McGregor.

Charles LeClaire

ST. LOUIS — Seeking depth for their bullpen, the Cardinals have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with right-hander David Aardsma, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Aardsma is known for being the first player listed alphabetically in major-league history, ahead of home run king Hank Aaron. But the 32-year-old Coloradan has enjoyed his share of success in the majors.

As the closer for the Mariners in 2009, Aardsma converted 38 of 42 save chances with 80 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings and a 2.52 ERA. He saved 31 games in 36 chances in 2010 before injuries began to derail his career. Surgery on his left hip in early 2011 was followed by Tommy John surgery later that year, costing Aardsma virtually all of 2011 and 2012. He bounced around early in 2013 before landing with the Mets, where he worked in 43 games with a 4.31 ERA.

At his peak, Aardsma was a hard thrower — his fastball averaged at least 94.0 mph through 2010 — with an excellent split-finger fastball. Since returning from Tommy John surgery, his fastball has averaged a tick above 91 mph.  

Aardsma went to spring training with the Indians but was released last week when it became clear he would not make the team despite a solid showing. He worked six innings in six games, allowing two earned runs with five strikeouts and no walks.

Aardsma was a first-round pick of the Giants in 2003 after he helped Rice to the College World Series championship.

Because Jason Motte is expected to begin the season on the disabled list, the Cardinals have an opening at the end of their bullpen. Aardsma enters a mix for the job that includes Keith Butler, Jorge Rondon and Scott McGregor.

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