Cardinals minor league medical watch

The status of 16 injured St. Louis Cardinals farmhands missing the start of the 2012 regular season.

The St. Louis Cardinals begin the 2012 minor league season at least 16 players short due to injuries that are serious enough that the players are inactive as they exit spring training camp. If healthy, all would have been competing for a spot on one of the four full-season clubs.

13 of the 16 are pitchers with the other three outfielders. Infielders and catchers completely dodged the serious injury bullets.

Listed by their 2011 season-ending levels, the 16 sidelined farmhands are:

Memphis: OF Mark Hamilton
Springfield: Ps Jordan Swagerty, Scott McGregor, Ramon Delgado, Jose Rada, OF Aaron Luna
Palm Beach: P Kevin Siegrist, OF Kyle Conley
Quad Cities: Ps Boone Whiting, Daniel Bibona, Ryan Copeland
Johnson City: Ps Roberto Canache, Josh Lucas, Michael Santana, Eduardo Hiraldo, Chris Costantino

Hamilton, in the process of moving to the outfield to accommodate a hotter first base prospect in Matt Adams, will be out 10-14 days due to a quad injury. He first suffered the injury while in major league camp, missing close to 10 days. Hamilton returned to minor league action before came ended, but apparently had a recurrence.

Memphis opened the season with just three healthy outfielders, though Jermaine Curtis, up from Springfield, also can play out there as can veteran infielder Eugenio Velez.

Swagerty
Of the injuries, Swagerty's is the most severe. He will miss all of this season due to removal of bone spurs and UCL nerve reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) in his right, pitching elbow.

McGregor and Delgado are coming off year-long injuries. McGregor was expected to be out until May after Tommy John surgery. Delgado made two appearances in 2011 before his season was over.

Rada has been out since last July. The right-hander returned to the mound in winter ball at home in Venezuela, only to blow out his elbow. Tommy John surgery followed so the 23-year-old will miss the entire 2012 campaign.

Luna may have been positioned to make the Memphis team except for a foot injury that slowed him down in Florida. Same for Conley at Springfield. He is missing his second consecutive opening day, this time due to a rib injury to his left side suffered near the end of camp.

Because of the outfield injuries, including a minor shoulder ailment Tommy Pham incurred the last week of camp that is restricting him to designated hitter duty, the Cardinals had to rush out and sign a free agent, Jake Shaffer, this week. Shaffer started in left field in Monday's Springfield-St. Louis exhibition.

Siegrist
After a nice stint in major league camp that included three scoreless innings, Siegrist was competing for a spot in Palm Beach's rotation with Whiting, our 28th-ranked Cardinals prospect, among others. Both are now out.

Whiting has a forearm flexor strain. His downtime is not expected to be lengthy, but it will take him some time to ramp up once he is cleared to resume a throwing program. Siegrist is ahead of Whiting, having already resumed throwing following a shoulder strain incurred during camp. The lefty could be back in action in a couple of weeks.

Canache and Santana were in their first spring training after competing in EST last season before joining Johnson City. Both are coming off shoulder injuries. While throwing, they are not ready for game action yet.

Hiraldo had been appearing in spring games, but was sidelined with a shoulder strain. He is already on a throwing program. Lucas will miss the entire 2012 season after November Tommy John surgery.

Costantino and Copeland incurred non-baseball injuries in the last week. Costantino had his tonsils removed and could miss a month to six weeks. Earlier, the right-hander had been slowed by shoulder soreness. Copeland had a blood clot scare in his non-throwing arm, but it has been dispersed. Hopefully the left-hander will receive clearance to resume his career shortly. Note: There is an update on Copeland's status here.

It may not be fair to completely leave catchers out of this report. Before their Monday exhibition, Springfield put their third catcher, Kleininger Teran, on the disabled list. With comparable extra catchers at the other three full-season clubs as well, look for pre-opening day moves with Roberto Espinoza (Memphis), Travis Tartamella (Palm Beach) and Adam Lewis (Quad Cities).

Finally, two pitchers are unavailable, not due to injury, but to visa problems in their respective countries of residence.

Jose Almarante pitched for Batavia last season and had been invited to spring camp. Instead, the Haitian native remains home in the Dominican Republic until his paperwork can be sorted out. Almarante was originally known as Eduard Estalis.

Angel De Jesus was a very busy member of Quad Cities' 2011 Midwest League championship bullpen. His 42 appearances was eighth-most in the entire system last season. The right-hander's arrival from the Dominican has also been delayed. De Jesus has been placed on the Bandits' restricted list in the interim.

There's more! As always, to reference full-team rosters for 2012 and prior seasons, click on "Minor League Rosters," located in the red area on the center of the page under The Cardinal Nation logo. Links to our extensive player profile pages can be found there or you can simply click on any highlighted player name on this, or any article on the site.

Finally, don't forget the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog, where you can view the entire Cardinals organization of 252 players from top to bottom, by level and position.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his minor league features during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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