With minimal concerns about the roster, some have taken to worrying about the club having too much depth, instead. Specific concerns have been expressed about such subjects as playing time for Oscar Taveras, the timing of when pitchers like Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez will get a rotation shot and if Joe Kelly will again be bumped from the starting five.
To try to help put the matter into context, I looked at the last seven springs – since the 2006 World Championship. I identified the players that opened each regular season on the Cardinals disabled list, whether 15- or 60-day.
Some, though not all, of these injuries actually occurred during spring camp. In other cases, they were known coming into the year. Of course, these lists were expanded substantially as in-season injuries occurred.
St. Louis Cardinals, disabled list, season-opening, 2007-13
|2013 (4)||2012 (3)||2011 (2)||2010 (0)||2009 (2)||2008 (7)||2007 (3)|
|C Carpenter||C Carpenter||Wainwright||none||J Garcia||Carpenter||Mulder|
Let's look at each season individually.
Starting shortstop Furcal could not throw, and left for season-ending surgery. Garcia pitched well and made it nine starts into the regular season before going under the knife. Carpenter tried valiantly, but finally had to give in to the affects of his thoracic outlet syndrome.
David Freese opened the season on the disabled list due to a back injury. While the starting third baseman returned a week into the season, he struggled for the first two months at the plate and seemed sluggish at times defensively as well.
Of course, Jason Motte's spring elbow injury was an unexpected blow to the club.
|C Carpenter||Back||Spring||Sept 21|
Carpenter suffered what was originally diagnosed as a bulging cervical disk after having experienced weakness in his neck, shoulder and upper arm. After mid-summer surgery, he eventually made his season debut in late-September, but was not himself.
Starting second baseman Skip Schumaker opened the season on the disabled list due to an oblique injury incurred during camp. Starting first baseman Allen Craig suffered a spring setback in his recovery from off-season knee surgery and also could not answer the opening bell.
The club had no major injuries before or during spring training camp.
Jaime Garcia sat out the entire 2009 season from major league action after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2008.
Third baseman Troy Glaus underwent surgery on his right shoulder in January and was originally expected back in June or July. He also dealt with lower back soreness and a twisted ankle during two different rehab stints and did not join St. Louis until rosters expanded in September.
Four members of the projected 2008 rotation began the season on the DL. Joel Pineiro was back quickly, but Matt Clement never made a regular-season appearance with St. Louis. Carpenter and Mark Mulder pitched a total of 17 innings that season.
Key bullpen members Tyler Johnson and Josh Kinney suffered spring injuries that ruined their year. For Kinney, it was two in a row. Starting shortstop Brendan Ryan missed three weeks to open the season. Outfielder Juan Encarnacion was unable to come back from an eye injury suffered late in the 2007 campaign.
Recently re-signed Mulder hoped to be ready by mid-summer, but only returned for the final month. Kinney blew out his elbow in camp and missed the entire season. Encarnacion opened the year on the DL with a wrist injury suffered during camp.
On the average, the Cardinals opened each season with three players on the disabled list. That number holds true even if the best and worst years are thrown out.
During five of the most recent seven spring training camps, including the last three consecutive, a Cardinal suffered what effectively became a season-ending injury. In one other year, a pre-existing condition was exposed as being season-ending during camp.
That leaves 2010 alone as the only spring unmarred by serious injury in the last seven. In an oddity, the history books remind us that the 2010 club became the last Cardinals club to miss the post-season.
Though on paper the 2014 club will report to camp with all players ready to go, reality says there will be bumps and bruises along the way, perhaps some of the very serious type. Garcia and Motte are among those trying to return from 2013 surgeries.
Having ready reserves to step in when the inevitable injuries occur could become the difference between the 2014 Cardinals making and missing their objectives.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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