ST. LOUIS -- Manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have another piece to work into their bullpen puzzle. Right-hander Mike Lincoln signed a one-year Major League contract with the Cardinals on Tuesday.
Lincoln, 28, came up through the Twins organization as a starter but was released after the 2001 season and signed with the Pirates. He pitched exclusively as a reliever with Pittsburgh, and found the role suited him. Over three years with the Bucs, he posted a 3.50 ERA with seven wins, nine losses, five saves and 102 strikeouts in 149 innings.
Lincoln endured a difficult 2003, missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury and finishing the year with a 5.20 ERA in 36 appearances. He endured a couple of tough appearances against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, including a July game in which he yielded three ninth-inning runs for a blown save and a loss.
With the addition of Lincoln, St. Louis now has added three players who were Pirates in 2003, following the signings of Jeff Suppan and Reggie Sanders last month.
The St. Louis bullpen might be close to set. Jason Isringhausen returns as the closer, with Steve Kline and Ray King slotted as the two left-handers. Lincoln will likely share right-handed setup duties with Cal Eldred and possibly Jason Simontacchi. Kiko Calero and youngster Evan Rust, acquired from Tampa Bay in the Tino Martinez deal, might also figure prominently in the mix.
That would leave only a few items on the shopping list for general manager Walt Jocketty. The Cards would still like to add a second baseman, and the team has until Thursday to re-sign free agent outfielder Orlando Palmeiro or let him go.
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lincoln is not a dominant set up man but i guess he is better than the old injured has-beens that were in the bullpen last year. if kiko can pitch like he did before his injury then the bullpen should be ok. journal could also figure in the mix but management doesnt seem to like him very much.