Training Camp has ended. The Cardinals are making their way north for the 2012 season. The opening day roster has been announced and it appears there are three birds with bad wings on it (I know that was a really bad pun). Chris Carpenter, Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig all will begin the 2012 campaign on the disabled list. Cardinal fans are collectively holding their breath waiting to see when and how Carpenter will rebound. As far as Schumaker, it will just take time and he will be ready. The other injured bird, Craig still raises a question or two.
The Allen Craig situation has really hit home for me over the past week as I have been sitting in a chair, leg elevated, having just underwent knee surgery myself. The injuries are completely different, but it has made me think how does one feel after going under the knife? How long will it take for a pro athlete to regain his form? When will he be ready to swing the bat or take that hard step down the base path running out a hit?
Craig has yet to run the bases or play the field this Spring. He did hit a round of batting practice on Saturday, which included a home run. He admitted later that he was experiencing quite a bit of soreness in the surgically repaired knee, after the session.
Soreness is one thing that Craig has proved that he can play with. After crashing into the fence in June 2011 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, he played with soreness the rest of the year. After hitting the right field wall Craig was diagnosed with a broken bone in his right knee cap. The injury sidelined him for a bit. As the sprint down the final stretch heated up, Craig passed several strength test and was put back in the lineup. His return worked out quite well for the Cardinals. However it was done knowing that after the season he would knee surgery.
In November 2011, Craig had the surgery to repair the broken bone in his patella. Two screws were inserted to help hold the fracture in place. It was announced then that he more than likely wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day. However, everyone hopefully wished that he would be ready. I think we all had in the back of our mind that it was a long shot that he would be able to go come the first week of April.
After running out of calendar days Mike Matheny announced this past week, Craig’s immediate future was on the DL for possibly the first month of the season. It was a disappointment, but a reality of the situation. However, I would rather miss him the first weeks of the season, be cautious with the recovery and then have him for the long haul as the season goes on.
There is no question the pop that Craig provides in the lineup will be missed. I guess it shows a little more than usual since we lost that one guy who used to hit third for us. I do think the addition of a healthy Carlos Beltran will help recoup plenty of the power in the order. I also look for Matt Holliday to have the biggest season that he has had in St. Louis this year. The Big Puma is hitting well also.
As long as the Birds can keep their beaks above the water until everyone is healthy I think we will be fine. They are confident they can defend their title. Despite winning the World Series, I think they feel they have something to prove as well. A healthy Allen Craig will help them prove that point.