SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -Rico Washington celebrated making the St. Louis Cardinals opening-day roster by hitting a home run in the Cardinals' 10-3 loss to Double-A Springfield on Saturday.
Washington, who played for Springfield and Triple-A Memphis last year, was told before the game by manager Tony La Russa that he'd made the team.
``I'm breathless right now. It hasn't sunk in. Words can't describe how it feels right now. After 10 years in the minors, I'm going to the big leagues,'' Washington said.
A 29-year-old career minor leaguer, Washington got the slot that would likely have gone to infielder Brendan Ryan, who will start the season on the disabled list because of a rib cage injury.
Washington is an infielder who mostly played third base in the minors. He has played in 1,134 minor league games, and hit a combined .279 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs in 79 games last year during an injury-plagued season at Springfield and Memphis.
``He caught balls in different positions. He had good at-bats and makes a positive contribution,'' La Russa said. ``We have flexibility with him. We have options.''
Washington's fifth-inning solo homer sailed into the St. Louis bullpen behind left field as fans cheered one of their favorites from last season.
``I was fortunate to hit it. It topped off my day and I wanted to leave Springfield with a home run,'' he said.
Washington was greeted in the dugout with high-fives from La Russa, pitching coach Dave Duncan and Albert Pujols.

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