St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese has been battling back soreness for the last few days, stemming from an attempt to catch a foul ball in the stands on March 4th. Four days later, he tried to return to the lineup but was still troubled by soreness.
Though Freese doesn’t consider the injury anything to worry about, you have to be concerned it might be something more serious. If that ends up being the case, you’re looking at Ty Wigginton as a potential long-term solution.
Neither Freese nor Wigginton is exactly tearing up the spring. Freese is hitting a very pedestrian .250 with a .796 OPS. Wigginton, who has the third-most plate appearances this spring, is hitting .103. Its possible that Wigginton is just off to an incredibly slow start, and keep in mind that there is still a few weeks left this spring to pick things up.
Even in he does turn his offense around, do the Cardinals really feel comfortable with the idea of having Wigginton at third long term?
An option in this case is to have Matt Carpenter — likely the Opening Day starter at second — move over to third, while letting Daniel Descalso and Ronny Cedeno share time in his place. Heck, an even better option would be to have Allen Craig fill in at third, thereby opening a spot for Matt Adams over at first.
And don’t hold your breath for John Mozeliak and co. to make a trade if Freese does end up missing a significant amount of time, either.
While not as physically demanding as playing shortstop, you need to make sure your back is healthy when defending the hot corner. It might be best to keep Freese out as long as necessary — perhaps the remainder of spring —to avoid any sort of long-term issue. The Cardinals need Freese’s bat in the lineup, as well as his leadership in the clubhouse and on the field.
The Cardinals do have options to work around the potential absence of Freese, so Cardinal Nation need not fret the worst.