Mar 24, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Stephen Piscotty (91) collides with center fielder Peter Bourjos (8) who made the catch against the New York Mets in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Healthy St. Louis Cardinals Need to Capitalize Early

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As Spring Training comes to a close, the healthy St. Louis Cardinals seem to have quite the advantage over their National League Central foes the Cincinnati Reds.  If you take a look at the injury report as of today, the only injuries the Cardinals are dealing with are Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte.  Everyone is familiar with the Garcia and Motte injuries, and the Cardinals have no issues filling those spots as the rotation and bullpen have been set.  The Cardinals actually got lucky their injury report did not double after some close calls in yesterday’s spring training game against the New York Mets.  Stephen Piscotty and Peter Bourjos collided as they made a play on a ball hit to the gap.  Each of those players also got hit by a pitch.  Piscotty was hit in the helmet, and Bourjos was hit in the hand.  Taking a look at the Reds injury report shows a different story for the division rivals.

The Cincinnati Reds, who the Cardinals open their season against in less than one week, are the most injury plagued team in the NL Central.  Aroldis Chapman will be out until at least mid-May after his scary injury.  Jonathan Broxton, Mat Latos, Devin Mesoraco, and Sean Marshall are all expected to be placed on the 15-day DL to start the season.  Homer Bailey, Skip Schumaker, and Johnny Cueto are all out until at least late March.  Needless to say those four won’t be 100% for the opening series.

While injuries are an unfortunate aspect of the sport, the healthy St. Louis Cardinals really need to take advantage of their health and capitalize on the misfortune of the Reds.  As I wrote earlier this spring, this season is front loaded with games against the NL Central, so starting hot would be very advantageous.  The Cardinals open their season in Cincinnati with a 3 game set against the Reds, then play 3 in Pittsburgh before coming home to face the Reds 3 more times.  That is 6 games against the Reds in 10 days.  It would be very nice to open a large lead over the Reds that early in the season to act as insurance for when/if the injury bug bites the Cardinals.

Looking at the rest of the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates are quite healthy dealing only with injuries to Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke.  Liriano is probable for the start of the regular season, while Locke is questionable.  The Chicago Cubs have injuries to Kyuji Fujikawa, Jake Arrieta, James McDonald, and Starlin Castro.  Fujikawa will be out until at least June, while Arrieta and McDonald are questionable for the start of the season.  Castro’s hamstring injury leaves him probably for the start of the season.  The Milwaukee Brewers have Jean Segura and Tom Gorzelanny who are both questionable for the start of the season.

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