What a difference one day makes!http://www.scout.com/player/142384-jeremy-hazelbaker?s=321
On Wednesday, outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker had an 0-for-3 afternoon with two strikeouts for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Miami Marlins. The 28-year-old minor league veteran had a nice spring in his first Cardinals camp, playing all three outfield positions and batting .279. He had hit two home runs and driven in seven, logging a respectable .819 OPS while showing he can be successful coming off the bench.
Yet, it looked to have been not enough. With what appeared to be a full roster, the Cardinals seemed destined to send Hazelbaker to Memphis with other roster cuts after the game, while the big league club flew to Pittsburgh for Sunday’s season opener.
Then Thursday came along. Before the Indiana native could be reassigned as part of the final cuts, two things happened.
First of all, in the spring finale against the Yankees, Hazelbaker had his best game of the spring, with a single, home run and three RBI. That raised his batting average to a robust .304 and OPS to .916, numbers almost identical to center field starter Randal Grichuk.
The second occurrence was even more significant, as it created a 25-man roster opening where it looked as if there would not be one. During the game against the Yankees, starting shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a quad injury that will send him to the disabled list to open the season.
Rather than add another infielder, the Cardinals decided to reward Hazelbaker with his first-ever MLB roster spot. One likely by-product will be trading in his spring number 91 jersey for a number appropriate for a Major Leaguer.
Before his exciting Thursday, Hazelbaker, who calls himself “a country boy,” spoke about his background and the twists and turns of his career that ultimately contributed to this most eventful occasion.
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