ST. LOUIS — Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran was out of the starting lineup Thursday night after making a late-night trip to the emergency room Wednesday night when pain in his stomach continued to get worse.
After hitting a solo home run and making a diving catch in the Cardinals’ 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox Wednesday night, Beltran returned home before persistent pain in his stomach got to a breaking point.
The potential All-Star decided to go to a local emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a stomach virus and given some fluids.
“He’s pretty weak right now,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who told reporters that Beltran was being quarantined in a back part of the training room to keep any other players from getting sick.
“His daughter was sick on Monday and he spent time at the doctor with her. I think it’s just part of parenthood. I imagine it’s contagious.”
Beltran had three of the Cardinals’ four hits Wednesday night and accounted for the only run of the game with a third-inning blast to right. The home run was his 19th of the season, the most in the National League.
But it almost didn’t happen. Matheny said Beltran was nearly scratched five minutes before first pitch because of the sickness but persuaded the manager to keep him in the lineup.
“He was bad yesterday,” Matheny said. “I was surprised he played. It was a great learning lesson for a lot of the younger players. I basically made my way down the bench after he made that catch and had already given us a 1-0 lead and I said, ‘I want you guys to realize that this guy was so sick we could hardly get him off the table and he begged me to wait for an hour to see if he felt better and he said he had to play.
“I love that. You could see them kind of shaking their heads a bit because that’s just a great lesson.”
Matheny said it was possible that Beltran would be available to pinch-hit Thursday night but said he wouldn’t know until the situation arose.
CARDINALS SIGN FIRST-ROUND PICK WACHA
The Cardinals formally introduced first-round pick Michael Wacha Wednesday after the right-hander signed his contract and officially joined the organization.
Wacha, who went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 16 starts for Texas A&M, was taken by the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick in last week’s Major League Baseball Draft.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Wacha said. “Just standing here right now inside Busch Stadium, it’s something I never dreamed of and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have no words for it. I signed my name and was thinking it’s finally come true. This is crazy.”
Asked about signing quickly and not drawing out the process, Wacha said, “I figured I might as well sign early and get out there and start throwing and start working my way up.”
Wacha will report to the Cardinals’ Gulf Coast League rookie league affiliate next week at their spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla. He will eventually move across the complex and pitch for High-A Palm Beach after he makes an appearance or two in the GCL.
The right-hander said his first purchase might be for a new car, perhaps a Chevy Tahoe. His current car is in the shop after breaking down on a recent trip.
MATHENY STICKING WITH FURCAL Shortstop Rafael Furcal remained in the starting lineup Thursday night despite an 0-for-18 skid on the current homestand that could be caused by fatigue.
Matheny said the Cardinals hope to get him at least one day off and perhaps two in the coming days.
“I still like him at the top of the lineup,” Matheny said. “He’s going to figure it out. It’s just a matter of time. I think a little rest will probably help. You’ll see it in the next couple days. We just have to find that day or two for him. Ideally you’d like to use it around that off day Monday but it’s just whether or not we can wait that long.”
Since going 3-for-3 on May 13 to raise his average to a season-high .383, the switch-hitter is hitting .191 in his last 28 games and has fallen below .300 for the first time since the second week of the season.
Thursday was the 17th straight start for Furcal, who has appeared in 61 of the Cardinals’ 63 games.
Skip Schumaker and Matt Carpenter could both rejoin the club when they head to Detroit Tuesday for the start of their next road trip. Schumaker led off and played second base for Memphis Thursday night while Carpenter batted second and played left field. The plan is for Schumaker to play seven innings Thursday, take Friday off and play a full nine innings on Saturday. … The Cardinals plan to roll over the starting rotation following Monday’s off day, giving each of their starters an extra day of rest. …Scouting director Dan Kantrovitz hinted that the club could have additional draft signings on Friday. Second-round pick Carson Kelly, a high school third baseman from Oregon, will be in St. Louis for a physical and could be one of the players who are close to agreeing with the club.