The St. Louis Cardinals received bad injury news before Spring Training got underway when Chris Carpenter was ruled out for the year, and that Jaime Garcia may start the season on the disabled list as he recovers from left shoulder injury. Now, Rafael Furcal may miss time with a right elbow injury.
Furcal is expected to miss the start of the Grapefruit League, and could miss a week or more with irritation in his elbow. This is the same elbow that he tore ligaments in last August that forced him to miss the rest of the season. Rather than opting for Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament, Furcal elected for rest and rehab, which now looks like a bad decision.
The former All-Star shortstop has been plagued by the injury bug in four of the past five seasons, only playing in more than 121 games once in that time span. The club will use Pete Kozma and Ronny Cedeno while Furcal rests and receives treatment on the troublesome elbow.
The Cardinals are also experimenting with Matt Carpenter at second base this spring and if he’s able to play that position, the Cardinals will have added depth along the middle infield. The biggest obstacle to the transition form a corner outfielder/corner infielder is turning the double play, and Carpenter has been working extensively with Jose Oquendo to improve his footwork around second base.
Getting Carpenter’s bat in the lineup is a priority for Mike Matheny’s squad. With All-Stars Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday blocking him in the outfield, and Allen Craig coming off a career-year at first base last season, the only viable spot is at second base.
The Cardinals have had success with transitioning players to second base, including Skip Schumaker, who was traded this winter. If Carpenter can hold down that position, the loss of Furcal will not be as detrimental as it would have otherwise.
The good news is that Opening Day is more than five weeks away, and you’d rather see Furcal miss Spring Training games in March than games in April and beyond.
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