Cardinals May Need To Find A Closer for April

The St. Louis Cardinals closer and all-time saves leader, Jason Isringhausen pitching for the first time in batting practice this spring Tuesday, had trouble finding the strike zone, raising the question, will he be ready by opening day?

The St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, rehabbing from surgery on his degenerative hip, pitched live batting practice Tuesday on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium.

According to an Associated Press report, Isringhausen threw only 25 pitches with only a few of them being strikes.

Isringhausen hopes to be ready to start the season on time, but with less than four weeks to go, his availability on opening day has to be in question.

The Cardinals insist that the closer is still ahead of his rehab schedule and that he is still expected to appear in his first spring training game on March 15, in anticipation that he'll be ready for opening day.

In 2003, Isringhausen was coming back from shoulder surgery in October of 2002 when he had a small tear in his labrum repaired. The Cardinals and Jason insisted throughout spring training that he was ahead of his rehab schedule and he would be ready to start the regular season on time, only to see him miss the first two plus months of the season.

I think Isringhausen's hip surgery is more serious than his shoulder surgery in 2002. A pitcher's hip is more closely associated with the velocity of a pitch than any other part of the body and the need to rebuild the strength and flexibility is paramount to a pitcher's success.

Observing Isringhausen laboring through his workout sessions the past couple of weeks, I have to wonder, if he wasn't ready to start the season on time in 2003, after the shoulder surgery, then I have have some reservations about him this time being ready after the hip surgery.

It may be time to start considering another option for a closer for the month of April.

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