On the heels of right-hander Adam Wainwright undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, which will put him out for the entire season, anxiety among Cardinals fans got heightened even more.
Right after Wainwright's surgery, co-ace Chris Carpenter and key reliever Mitch Boggs both went out with strains (left hamstring and lower back, respectively) in the same exhibition game. While neither injury appeared to be serious -- both figured to miss not much more than a week of competition -- it still was a double dose of more bad news.
Carpenter, who has had a myriad of elbow and shoulder ailments over the years, never had had a hamstring injury, so he was uncertain about how to progress.
"I still feel it a little bit," said Carpenter, "but if it keeps getting better every day like it has, then it will be fine."
But, before Carpenter, 35, would pitch again, he said, "It's going to have to totally be gone."
Boggs was a couple of days behind Carpenter but said he was improving.
"Just putting my pants on is easier," said Boggs.
With Wainwright and then Carpenter out, several young pitchers in Cardinals camp were getting more opportunities. The most impressive early on were right-handers Lance Lynn and Brandon Dickson, who were mainstays at Class AAA Memphis last year.
For the moment, at least, right-hander Kyle McClellen will exit the bullpen and presumably take Wainwright's rotation spot although McClellan could wind up in the bullpen again, depending on the injury situation.
· RHP Adam Wainwright, a day after having Tommy John elbow surgery, pledged he would return at full speed a year from now, meaning he thinks he'll be ready in spring training of 2012. "I'm a little disappointed, but, at the same time, I know I'm probably prolonging my career now by going ahead and doing this when I'm doing it," Wainwright said. "Everything I've heard is that I'll be back full steam, full bore, ready to go, by this time next year in spring training."
· INF-OF Allen Craig started at third base and first base and then moved to right field in his first two exhibition games. With the addition of Lance Berkman to play right field, if he can remain healthy, Craig, who hit .246 with four homers in 44 games last year with the Cardinals, said he knew he needed to be versatile to stay around this year. As he unpacked three different gloves from his equipment bag, Craig said, "I've got to be prepared. I like it if it gets me into the lineup. If I get a chance to play, I think I'll produce."
· INF Tyler Greene is getting a third chance to make his mark with the Cardinals as a utility player, and the club is hoping he can relax more this time around and let his all-round talents speak for themselves. In previous trials, Greene, 27, said, "I was trying to make too much of an impression when all I had to do was just play. I think it's just … a way of letting it happen and trusting in your ability. It will come. It will come. And it will become second nature."
· 3B David Freese, save for a pinch-hitting appearance, missed the first week of exhibition games but was on schedule to begin playing in the second week and then to be ready for Opening Day on March 31. He said he was feeling no ill effects of running the bases. Twice last year, Freese suffered ankle injuries, requiring surgery, while trying to get from third to home.
· INF Zack Cox, who got a chance to be the designated hitter when RF Lance Berkman had to sit out, prospered in his first start in a big-league uniform. Cox, the club's top pick in the 2010 draft, doubled, singled and scored a run. He will return to the minor league camp shortly but has been impressive at bat so far. It is uncertain whether he will wind up at third base, second base or somewhere else defensively.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Times in 10 seasons that 1B Albert Pujols has struck out three times in a regular-season game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The only thing that was such a shame about it was that I was feeling so great. It just goes to show you that it was time for it to happen."
- RHP Adam Wainwright, on hurting his elbow during a batting practice throwing session and then having to undergo season-ending elbow surgery.
The Cardinals entered the offseason with one of the best core groups in baseball: 1B Albert Pujols, LF Matt Holliday, RHPs Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and Gold Glove C Yadier Molina. They have tried to upgrade the supporting cast, particularly by signing RF Lance Berkman.
ARRIVALS: C Gerald Laird (free agent from Tigers), RF Lance Berkman (free agent from Yankees), LHP Brian Tallet (free agent from Blue Jays), SS Ryan Theriot (trade with Dodgers), RHP Miguel Batista (free agent from Nationals), RHP Ian Snell (free agent from Mariners), INF Ramon Vazquez (minor league free agent from Astros), INF Nick Punto (free agent from Twins).
DEPARTURES: INF Brendan Ryan (traded to Mariners), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent, signed with Phillies), RHP Blake Hawksworth (traded to Dodgers), RHP Brad Penny (free agent, signed with Tigers), RHP Jeff Suppan (free agent, signed minor league contract with Giants), RHP Mike MacDougal (free agent, signed minor league deal with Dodgers), 3B Pedro Feliz (free agent, signed minor league deal with Royals), OF Randy Winn (free agent, signed minor league deal with Orioles), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent, signed minor league deal with Red Sox), INF Aaron Miles (free agent, signed minor league deal with Dodgers).
1. RHP Adam Wainwright (injured)
1. RHP Chris Carpenter
2. LHP Jaime Garcia
3. RHP Jake Westbrook
4. RHP Kyle Lohse
5. RHP Kyle McClellan
Wainwright's injury could be a huge factor not only for the Cardinals, but the entire NL Central. The Cardinals had thought they were as set with their rotation as they've been in years and were most concerned about whether Lohse can remain healthy. Lohse, plagued mostly by forearm problems, has won just 10 games over the last two seasons after winning 15 in 2008. Depth behind the top five is sketchy.
RHP Ryan Franklin (closer)
RHP Mitchell Boggs
RHP Jason Motte
RHP Miguel Batista
RHP Fernando Salas
LHP Trever Miller
LHP Brian Tallet
Little change in the makeup of a bullpen that was successful far more often than not last year. Might be a bit weak on the left side, with Miller and Tallet coming off subpar seasons, but it's very deep right-handed. Boggs and Motte rank as closer candidates if veteran Franklin falters.
1. 2B Skip Schumaker
2. CF Colby Rasmus
3. 1B Albert Pujols
4. LF Matt Holliday
5. RF Lance Berkman
6. C Yadier Molina
7. 3B David Freese
8. SS Ryan Theriot
The leadoff spot is up for grabs between Schumaker and newcomer Theriot, and it might be that Theriot will lead off against left-handers and Schumaker will hit first against right-handers. Berkman is slotted fifth for now but could move to second if Rasmus is deemed capable of protecting Pujols and Holliday.
TOP ROOKIES: Technically not a
rookie -- he missed by a few days -- Allen Craig, the most notable power hitter
in the minor league system, ostensibly is a first-year player. Craig was
productive last season at the big-league level when he got to play four or five
games in a row, but he had a difficult time coming off the bench as a pinch
hitter or spot player, which likely will be his lot this year, too, if he makes
the club. The top pitching prospect probably is RHP Lance Lynn, a 13-game winner
at Class AAA Memphis. INF Daniel Descalso was impressive at third base in a late
season trial but probably is ticketed for
· RHP Chris Carpenter (strained left hamstring) had to leave his spring debut March 1 after 2 2/3 innings. Carpenter had pitched well and seemingly with little difficulty before he walked off the mound. He hopes to miss just one start.
· RHP Mitchell Boggs (strained lower back) had to leave his March 1 outing after getting only two outs. He hoped to resume long-tossing during the first week of March.
· RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) will miss the entire 2011 season.
· INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) is likely to be out until at least late April.