2011 Revisited: The First Twists of Spring

We continue our look back in real-time at the 2011 World Championship season of the Cardinals.  That title seemed a bit of a mirage when the news of this day was factored in.

The First Twists of Spring

What’s that saying?  Something about war plans only surviving until you meet the enemy?  Well, the best laid plans of the Cardinals didn’t survive the first week of spring training.  One major storm yesterday, but a bigger possible cloud on the horizon.

Yesterday, Nick Punto went to get an evaluation on a nagging injury.  Turns out it was a sports hernia and will require surgery and 8-12 weeks of recovery.  So after all the agonizing over David Freese, it turns out to be the insurance policy that has the problems.

This would seem to open up the possibility that both Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene could make the squad and that the workouts for Allen Craig at third may pick up in intensity.  We all know what estimated times of return mean when you are dealing with the Cardinals (remember, Brad Penny was supposed to be out only 15 days), so it’s possible it’ll be quite a time before Punto makes his Cardinal debut.

However, that was quickly overshadowed this morning with the news breaking on Twitter just a bit ago that Adam Wainwright has gone back to St. Louis and will have his elbow evaluated.  The most chilling thing has been the team’s response.  Again, remember this is a team that tends to downplay everything.  So when they come out immediately and say they are afraid this is significant, it can NOT be good.

If Wainwright is out, that changes the whole complexion of the season.  John Mozeliak on KTRS this morning indicated that Tommy John surgery was a possibility and, in fact, comes across as expecting this to be the case.  If it’s not just a small injury that he can return from, that makes for a major hit on a club that was hoping to get into the postseason.

Of course, everyone shifts up if this is a big deal.  Chris Carpenter goes Opening Day, Jaime Garcia to #2, Jake Westbrook to #3 and Kyle Lohse is #4.  Which means that a little more is expected out of Lohse in that regard.  We were thinking that he’d be fine in that last role, but he’ll have to pitch a little better if he’s moving up in the rotation.  I think he can do it, but the same numbers aren’t as spectacular out of your four as they are when they are out of the five.

There now becomes a competition to see who gets that last slot in the rotation.  Last year, Garcia grabbed the job when it was open.  Can someone do that this year?  Does Lance Lynn approach the rest of the spring with a little more determination knowing he could make the club?  Will Ian Snell be able to partake of Dave Duncan‘s magic and pitch his way into the role?  Will another pitcher, less heralded, become a candidate?

If nothing else, the last couple of days have shaken up a roster that could have been written in pen coming into camp.  How things will play out will be interesting to watch, even as the absence of Wainwright will be sorely noted.

If you want to comfort yourself somewhat, there’s an article about Shelby Miller on the P-D website.  Could be that, if it is Tommy John, Miller will be ready to team with Waino when he returns.

UCB Radio Hour tonight.  Josh will have a lot to talk about.

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