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A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of December 14-20, 2015

A key starter has second surgery, another also has surgery, and a minor league pitcher heads to Japan.

Molina repeats thumb surgery

In an unexpected setback, it was announced this past week that catcher Yadier Molina had to undergo a second surgery on his left thumb ligament after a post first surgery MRI revealed that the thumb ligament had not healed properly.  The second surgery will require a recovery and rehab period that will cause Molina to not be ready for Spring Training.  Whether Molina will be cleared to play on Opening Day will be determined by how quickly Molina regains the strength in the thumb.  Molina is in a full cast to promote healing and limit mobility, and the cast is expected to remain on until the end of January.  Strengthening exercises throughout February and March will occur to restore Molina’s ability to swing a bat effectively and hopefully enable him to be ready to play on Opening Day.

In the meantime, the Cardinals will look for additional catching help on a minor league contract to further fortify catching depth.  The Cardinals added catcher Brayan Pena to replace the traded Tony Cruz, and have minor league catcher Michael Ohlman on the 40 man roster. 

Grichuk has sports hernia surgery

A week after Molina’s second thumb surgery, outfielder Randal Grichuk underwent sports hernia surgery.  The Cardinals expect Grichuk to resume his normal workouts within the next week and to be fully ready for Spring Training.

Grichuk, who is expected to be the Cardinals’ starting center fielder in 2016, was on the DL twice in 2015, once with a back injury early in the seasons that he subsequently reinjured, and later in the season with an elbow injury that left him unable to throw full distance for much of the second half of the season.

Grichuk is backed up in center field by the oft injured Tommy Pham, as the Cardinals traded center fielder Jon Jay to the San Diego Padres, and put center fielder Peter Bourjos on waivers, from where he was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Minor leaguer Petrick to pitch in Japan

The Cardinals have transferred the rights of right handed pitcher Zach Petrick to the Yokohama DeNA Baystars of the Nippon Professional Baseball League of Japan.  The transfer was made for cash considerations.

The 26 year old Petrick was the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 and was a non-roster invitee to major league Spring Training in 2014 and 2015.  Petrick was an undrafted free agent in 2012 and quickly ascended the ranks to pitch in Memphis in both 2014 and 2015.  He struggled somewhat in his two seasons in Memphis, posting a 7-6 record with a 4.62 ERA in 2014 and 7-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 2015.

Matheny and Rosenthal to share honor

Manager Mike Matheny and Cardinals’ closer Trevor Rosenthal will be honored as co-winners of the J.G. Taylor Spink St. Louis Man of the Year Award at the 58th annual St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner.  The event will be held on January 17, 2016 at 6:30 CST at the Marriott Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis. The St. Louis BBWAA Dinner is an annual event that occurs during the Winter Warm-Up.

Other Cardinals honorees at the event include Rawlings Gold Glove Award recipients Yadier Molina and Carson Kelly; Jack Herman/Joe Ostermeier Rookie of the Year winners Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty; Bauman Physical Comeback Award winners Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia; J. Roy Stockton/Bob Broeg Award winners for Outstanding Achievement in Baseball, Michael WachaMatt CarpenterKevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Mitch Harris;  Darryl Kile Award winner Molina;  and Organizational Minor League Player/Pitcher of the Year winners Piscotty, Alex Reyes and Austin Gomber.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased online at stlouisbbwaa.com or by calling Brown Paper Tickets (1-800-838-3006).

Olsen promoted to Head Trainer

The Cardinals have promoted Assistant Athletic Trainer Adam Olsen to the position of Head Athletic Trainer, to fill the vacant position left by the resignation of Greg Hauck in November.

The 38 year-old Olsen spent six seasons as the Cardinals’ Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist, and 10 seasons on the Cardinals’ medical staff.  The Green Bay, Wisconsin native is a graduate of Auburn University, and received his Athletic Training Certification at Auburn and his Master’s Degree in physical education from the University of Wisconsin.  Olsen completed a fellowship at the American Sports Medicine Institute in post-professional sports physical therapy, and has worked with noted Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted that the Cardinals have had “talks” with the Tampa Bay Rays about acquiring a starting pitcher.  Which pitcher or pitchers are the subject of these talks was undisclosed, though Morosi noted in his tweet that Rays’ pitcher Jake Odorizzi is a native of the St. Louis area.

Transactions

There are no Cardinals transactions to report.

Injury Report

Catcher Yadier Molina (left thumb ligament surgery) underwent a second surgery in two months to repair his injured left thumb ligament.  Molina has been placed in a full cast, and is expected to remain in full cast until the end of January.  Molina will not be ready for Spring Training, but the Cardinals are optimistic he will be ready for Opening Day.

Randal Grichuk underwent sports hernia surgery.  The hernia was a previously undisclosed injury, and Grichuk is expected to be fully ready for Spring Training.  In addition to this latest injury, Grichuk suffered a back injury that was later reinjured and an elbow injury in 2015 that kept him on the DL for a total of 47 days during the season.

Looking Ahead

In the wake of missing out on signing outfielder Jason Heyward, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com beat writer Jenifer Langosch that the Cardinals will shift their focus away from acquiring another outfielder and focus on pitching, both a starting pitcher and relievers.

The Cardinals have been rumored to be discussing acquiring a pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays, but no further details are available.  The Cardinals are in need of a fifth rotation starter in the absence of starter Lance Lynn, who will miss the entirety of the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery.  The Cardinals have internal options for the rotation, which include Tyler LyonsTim Cooney and Marco Gonzales, though acquiring a pitcher externally is also apparently still on the table.

The deadline for salary arbitration filing is January 12, 2016, and the Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players who could be agreeing to new contracts in the near future.  Contracts for arbitration eligible players can be agreed upon any time up to the date of any scheduled arbitration hearing, which begin in February.  The four arbitration eligible Cardinals are Rosenthal, Seth ManessMatt Adams and Brandon Moss

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