St.Louis Cardinals' social media exploded on Tuesday when when it was reported from Jupiter Florida that Carlos Martinez was transferred to a no-throw program for the next two weeks. Additionally, concerns about the strength and recovery of Marcell Ozuna's shoulder arose when Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch said he wouldn't be surprised if the outfielder started the season on the IL list.
Should Cardinals fans start to panic? Or would that be an overreaction to the news. Well, maybe it would be an overreaction to start to panic this early in spring training. But due to the recent injury history of these two players, concerns are justified.
Martinez and Ozuna are two key parts of the Cardinals roster and both are being depended on to help the Cards return to being a contender. So one could certainly understand the reaction of Cardinal nation to the news that both players are not 100% at the start of spring training.
The 27-year-old right handed starter, had three trips to the DL in 2018. After a incredible start to the season, which included a 1.62 ERA, Martinez was placed on the DL for the first time on May 10th with a right lat strain. He returned to the DL two more times in 2018 with a right oblique strain and a right shoulder strain.
After coming off his third DL stint in August, Martinez was moved to the bullpen where he finished the season with a 8-6 record,a 3.11 ERA, and recorded five saves. In September, pitching exclusively out the pen, Martinez had a 1.93 ERA, recorded 16 strikeouts, and allowed an BA of .200 in 14 innings.
Martinez's bullpen performance in 2018 started a debate whether the talented pitcher should be moved to a closer's position in 2019. However, until the Tuesday's news, the Cardinals seem to discount that possibility. Now according to manager MIke Schildt, "Everything is on the table with Carlos. We'll evaluate as we go."
If the news on Carlos Martinez has been concerning, the reports of Marcell Ozuna's still weak right shoulder, has been frustrating. After being bothered by shoulder issues for most of the 2018 season, the outfielder had surgery on October 30th.
Frustration seem to kick in for the Cardinal front office when Ozuna delayed the surgery longer than seem needed and elected to do his rehab in the DR as opposed in Florida under Cardinals watchful eyes.
Nevertheless, after a John Mozeliak visit to the DR in December, all seemed to be going well with Ozuna's rehab. The expectations were that the 28-year-old Ozuna, would be at 100% health, well before spring training.
However, when Spring Training started this week, the Cardinals changed their tune and reported that Ozuna would be on a limited throwing program. The plan is to ease the right handed bat in the DH role, before allowing him to play in the field.
Although Mike Shildt stated the Cardinals expected Marcell Ozuna to be ready for the start of the season, many fans were caught by surprise by the left fielders early limitations. Rick Hummel's statement only enhanced those concerns..
So is panic justified?
Probably not yet. However, concerns are understandable. With Carlos Martinez, we were all hoping after a off season of rest, he would be stronger and at 100% going into spring training. The same with Marcell Ozuna, especially after his reportedly successful surgery in October.
It very well could be the plan the Cardinals have for Martinez during spring training is the best course and he will be ready to start in the rotation on opening day. Carlos has expressed he is not concerned and the Cardinals seem confident he will be ready to go on opening day.
The plan for Ozuna could also work out and he will be ready for the regular season on opening day. After all, getting his bats in during spring training is more important than the amount of time he gets in the outfield.
So let's not panic yet. It's early and let's give these two situations a chance to play out this spring. We can panic at anytime, but feel free to be concerned. I know I am.
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