Hitchcock to join Cards' rotation

Updated: August 23, 2003, 2:10 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- The contending St. Louis Cardinals made a pair of trades for pitchers Friday night, getting Sterling Hitchcock from the New York Yankees and reliever Mike DeJean from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said his team may not be done dealing yet.

"We've still got a couple of other things we're working on," he said. "We still have payroll flexibility."

The Cardinals began the day in the thick of the NL Central race with Houston and the Chicago Cubs. St. Louis has stayed in contention this season despite a staff that has been both inconsistent and injured.

Hitchcock went from a spare arm in the Yankees' bullpen to a starter in St. Louis. The Cardinals sent minor league pitchers Justin Pope and Ben Julianel to New York.

DeJean was acquired for two minor league pitchers to be named.

Hitchcock, 32, was 1-3 with a 5.44 ERA in 27 games. The left-hander is in the final year of a two-year, $12 million contract, but has made only one start.

"It's an opportunity to go and start," Hitchcock said. "I missed it. It's clear to me that's what I wanted to do."

Jocketty said the plan calls for Hitchcock to join the rotation "at some point."

"He comes to us with great experience," Jocketty said. "He's done well in the National League throughout his career and he has tons of postseason experience. I think he's got a lot left in his arm."

Hitchcock, the MVP of the 1998 NL championship series with San Diego, was limited to 20 games last year because of a lower back injury. He was squeezed out of a deep rotation this season.

"A long guy doesn't get a lot of work on a staff with maybe four future Hall of Famers," Hitchcock said. "I love New York, I love the city, I love the guys on the team. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out."

Hitchcock left the Yankees' dugout in the fourth inning of Friday night's game against Baltimore after shaking hands with several teammates and hugging third base coach Willie Randolph.

The Cardinals had tried to get Hitchcock from the AL East leaders last month.

"It worked out favorably for us," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "It's always good to replenish the system."

About an hour earlier, the Cardinals announced the deal for DeJean.

DeJean, 32, was 4-7 with a 4.87 ERA and a team-leading 18 saves in 58 games for the Brewers. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 appearances since the All-Star break.

Last year, DeJean had a career-high 27 saves.

"He's got nasty stuff," Jocketty said. "I told a few of the guys before the game that we had traded for him and they were very excited."

DeJean was napping in the trainer's room before the Brewers' home game against Pittsburgh when manager Ned Yost summoned him.

"I was still trying to shake the cobwebs off," DeJean said. "I was still trying to wake up a little bit, but it's a really good opportunity with the Cardinals."

DeJean said he would fly out of Milwaukee on Saturday morning to get to St. Louis for the Cardinals' afternoon game against Philadelphia.

The righty likely be used in a setup role with St. Louis. Jocketty said DeJean also could close on the days that Jason Isringhausen can't pitch.

"He's a proven closer and he's a quality bullpen guy," Jocketty said. "He definitely will help our bullpen."

Gord Ash, Milwaukee's assistant general manager, said the Brewers get to choose two among three pitchers in the Cardinals' minor league system. He would not name them, but said they would join the Brewers' organization no later than Sept. 15.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press