A Load Off Our Shoulders

Usually, when a player goes to see Dr. James Andrews, positive news does not issue forth.  Nothing against the good doctor, of course, but when a player from your team makes an appointment, you start figuring out where to send the flowers.  Most of the time, he’s getting out his knives.

So it would be just like Jaime Garcia to be contrary enough to be one of the few that comes out of Alabama with a good result.  No surgery is needed on his shoulder, it was just inflamed and rest (plus a cortisone shot) should take care of that.  Now, as Bernie Miklasz points out, you tend to take positive news on Cardinal injuries with a grain of salt, but getting that report from Dr. Andrews does go a long way in relieving some fears.

Now, it’s not like Garcia can just jump back in there and pick up where he left off.  There is that rest component, which we have no idea how long it will last.  It still seems unlikely that he makes the club for Opening Day, though a short rehab assignment in Memphis could have him on the club before May starts.  We’ll just have to see how the next few days go, for the most part.

What did raise my eyebrows were some of John Mozeliak’s comments.  Here’s the relevant part:

“He’s got work ahead of him,” Mozeliak said. “The depth here is going to create a very tough competition.

“There are guys who have found ways to manage through it. I think the days of feeling perfect are over.”

That last sentence is pretty pointed for a man who tends to be, I don’t want to say evasive, but not necessarily frank when talking to the media.  I also don’t say that as a bad thing–the last thing you want is a GM running off about players to the press, causing distractions or possibly ruining trade value.  (We’ve seen that too often with Tony La Russa in the past.)

However, in this case Mo seems to be indicating that perhaps other players would have pitched through this discomfort.  Whether that’s right or not, I don’t know.  Obviously you’d rather have this checked out now rather than after the season starts and you’d rather catch something early than have it blow up into a major injury.

That said, the only day a baseball player feels 100% is the day before spring training starts, I imagine.  There are bumps, aches, discomforts constantly and the trick is knowing which ones are serious and which ones you can play through.  We saw how J.D. Drew was lambasted in town for having a soft reputation, fair or not.  Yet we also have seen Garcia get beat up on for not telling anyone he was hurt before the 2012 playoffs, so it goes both ways.

We’ll just have to wait and see when Garcia returns and, when he does, if he can bump someone out of the rotation.  I can’t see Garcia being that effective out of the bullpen, though perhaps he could be.  Like Mozeliak pointed out, you worry about him being available on back-to-back days or warming up on two straight days.  If Joe Kelly is pitching well in that spot, though, it may be hard to move Garcia in there.  (As I’ve said before, Garcia getting hurt could create a good strategy for the use of Carlos Martinez, letting him start the year, then slide out of the rotation to save his innings when Garcia returns.)

Another player that won’t be ready for Opening Day is Jason Motte.  Now, I never really expected him to start the season with the big club.  Tommy John surgery, even though players are recovering quicker than they used to, still seems to have about a 12 month recovery time, and Motte didn’t go under the knife until May.  So hearing reports in the last few days saying that he could go north with the team really surprised me.

Now it appears that Motte hasn’t quite had a setback, but as the old quote goes, no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy and most recovery plans never survive a player actually getting up to game speed.  Soreness, inflammation, all things related to doing an activity at a level you’ve not done it at for months and suddenly your optimism gets a bit of a check.  Again, it’s not a big deal and Motte’s return in hopefully May or so will still be welcome, but never take the under on returning from surgery.

Trevor Rosenthal had cut short a throwing session a couple of days ago, due to a groin issue.  (Thankfully, not the same one Martinez has had to deal with over the past few days!)  Looks like it was nothing serious, just a precautionary move.  No need to try to do too much in spring training.  You knock on wood and everything, of course, but it looks like Rosenthal will be back out there very soon with no ill effects.

There’s a good story on Scott Rolen up at the official site, as he showed up in Phillies camp yesterday as they opened the spring training slate with a game against the Blue Jays, another one of his former teams.  The Cards have done a great job in the last couple of years reaching out to players to come back to camp and be involved, including ones that might have been alienated during the TLR era.  I would like to see them do the same for Rolen.  He had a great run here in St. Louis, the only time(s) he played in the World Series was in Cardinal red and he got his only ring here.  Having him involved to teach third base defense would be outstanding.  Mike Matheny played with Rolen and I assume that there were no problems there.  With TLR (and, if it mattered, Walt Jocketty–I know Mo traded Rolen, but the situation deteriorated well before he took the reins) out of the picture, there’s no reason another one of the Cardinal greats can’t make a homecoming.

Approval ratings time!  Today we look at Yadier Molina.  Last year, Molina hit levels we’ve not seen in this since Albert Pujols left town.  He reached an outstanding 96.2%, which is just amazing when you think of all people bring with them when they start filling out this form.  Then he went out and put up another MVP-like season.  Which means, this year, he clicks up a smidgen to 96.3%.  Of course, that might be because someone gave him 110%, which I allowed just because, well, it’s Molina.  Sometimes the scale just doesn’t apply.  Thirty-one perfect scores and a low of 80, so we really like Molina.

John Rooney, one of the radio voices of the Cardinals, is our media member of the day.  Rooney’s been on the ballot every year and he’s always gotten around 80% or so, coming just shy of 85% last year.  This year, he fell off of that mark just a smidgen, but that probably has to do more with who voted and just general statistical noise than any change in the feelings toward him.  He comes in this year at 83.4%, about a point lower than last year but well in line with his general trend.

Today’s miscellaneous person is manager Mike Matheny.  Like Rooney, he’s stayed in the 80-85 range, though this is only the third year he’s been up for consideration.  For the third year in a row, though, he’s pushed his number up a little bit and this year finishes at 85.2%.  I expect general success overshadows any irritations with his strategies or style of play–tough to vote against a guy that keeps taking you to the playoffs.

Playing Pepper hits the rarefied air of the Rockies this afternoon, so that’s something to look forward to!

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