In the 8th inning of today’s 6-1 win against the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals righthander Luke Weaver was removed from the game after getting the first two outs of the inning.
The St. Louis Cardinals have had their fair share of bad news in recent history when it comes to injuries. One need only to look back a couple of weeks to recall the latest blow – when Alex Reyes had Tommy John surgery, ending what promised to be an exciting 2017 season for the young prospect.
Just last weekend, news broke that second baseman Kolten Wong is still dealing with effects from a shoulder injury he suffered playing left field at Wrigley Field last September. For now, it seems there’s reason for optimism with Wong’s shoulder, but we’ll hold our breath.
The same is the case for Luke Weaver. When he left the mound with trainers in the eighth inning today, that familiar sinking feeling must have been setting in for many Cardinals fans. After all, Weaver is now the team’s top pitching prospect this season since Reyes is on the shelf.
After the game, the team’s official twitter account tweeted that the removal was a precautionary move related to back spasms Weaver was experiencing:
It seems the Cardinals can’t catch a break when it comes to the injury bug. Each year, a key piece (or two, or three) seems to go down for a considerable part of the season, if not the entire year.
Yes, this happens to other major-league teams, but part of what’s so frustrating with the Cardinals’ injuries is they usually begin with the label “precautionary”, but more often than not, result in a player missing a considerable chunk of time.
I’m not saying this is the case with Weaver. But it’s worth noting that Cardinal Nation has been conditioned to hold their breath even with a diagnosis such as some back spasms in the Spring.
When Wong landed awkwardly on his shoulder last September, he was removed from the game but returned to the field a couple days later. Now we’ve learned that the inflammation in his shoulder from that crash is lingering into this year.
In 2015, left fielder Matt Holliday landed on the disabled list twice because of a tear in his left hamstring. He was rushed back too soon after the first tear and re-injured the leg. That’s not the only instance in recent years in which a player has made multiple trips to the disabled list in one season.
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Occurrences like those make it easy to lay blame on the training staff. After all, why not? They’re professionals whose job it is to monitor players who are preparing and conditioning for the grind of a 162-game season. When players get injured, it falls on the trainers to work tirelessly with them in the rehab process.
Now, we don’t know all of the details of each specific injury (and re-injury) that the Cardinals have dealt with in recent years. I’m sure the training staff does a professional and admirable job in conditioning the players. Injuries are a part of the game. It’s unfair to directly blame the trainers every time a Cardinal is removed from a game or visits the disabled list.
Simply from an outside perspective, the saga of injuries that Cardinals fans have become all too accustomed to is frustrating. Injury concerns seem to always come with a dose of uncertainty. A seemingly minor injury could turn into a major problem. A major injury could come out of nowhere. This is the annual right-of-passage a Cardinals fan seemingly faces.
Back to where we started, it’s probable that Weaver is just fine, and will appear in another Grapefruit League game in a matter of days. But if this develops into a more serious concern, Cardinal Nation will have heard that tune before.