Under closer examination, it was none other than rehabbing St. Louis Cardinals infielder Brendan Ryan, preparing to play his first nine-inning game coming off what has been called irritation to his right rib cage. That March injury cost him a spot on the major league opening day roster and created an opening for career minor leaguer Rico Washington.
It reminded me a bit of the 2006 season. When David Eckstein went down to injury, Ryan was unavailable to make what would have been his MLB debut because he was once again on the disabled list, a semi-regular stop for the talented infielder since his professional debut in 2003.
This time, while certainly disappointed over what happened, Ryan can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The 26-year-old played in an extended spring training game Friday, taking four at-bats and playing five innings in the field. He played a full nine on Saturday and in doing so displayed the inconsistency that sometimes seems to both intrigue and irritate Manager Tony La Russa.
In the middle innings on Saturday, Ryan didn't charge a chopper hard enough and bobbled the ball for an error (in my opinion). In all fairness, the infields were not of MLB quality, either. In the next inning, with pitcher Josh Wilson struggling, Ryan went deep in short to start a pretty 6-4-3 to get his club out of a jam.
In this exclusive audio interview, Ryan explains his plans to play three games for Palm Beach starting Sunday, then move on to Double-A Springfield on Thursday. From there, no one knows, or if they do, they aren't telling Ryan.
(Ryan's reference to "Pop" at the end is Springfield manager Ron "Pop" Warner.)
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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