Yesterday’s spring training game showed the complexity and flaws of the St. Louis Cardinals conditioning department.
The St. Louis Cardinals played their final Saturday game of Spring Training yesterday. What was promised as a good outing for Lance Lynn before he pitches in the “Battle of the Birds” on March 30 in Memphis, turned into a minor disaster. And not just for Lynn.
Yesterday’s game saw Lynn pitch one inning only before being removed from the game by medical staff. At the end of the first inning, Lynn looked back at the mound as if something had gone wrong. The broadcast never announced a real reason for his departure but GM Mozeliak shared that he was removed for precautionary reasons.
Late in the day on Saturday, Jenifer Langosch reported that Lynn had been removed due to a pinch felt in his back. This pain had been reduced (or as the team reported “alleviated”) but Mike Matheny still kept Lynn out of action for precautionary reasons.
At this point, promising pitcher John Gant– who was gained through the trade of Jaime Garcia to Atlanta- entered the game. The plan for Gant is for him to begin the 2017 campaign with AAA Memphis. That said, Gant is expected to contribute well in 2017. An injury is not good news.
And an injury was just what befell him. After a successful first inning pitched, Gant returned to the mound to warm up and did not finish his warm up pitches having felt tightness in his groin. Groin tightness was something the St. Louis Cardinals reported multiple times in 2016 and it seems to be recurring again already in 2017.
Gant was removed, states that he feels he caught it early enough, and yet the team is intending to sideline him for at least a week.
One other St. Louis Cardinals player encountered injury on Saturday: Jhonny Peralta fouled a hit off his knee, finished the at-bat, then was removed from the game. While perhaps not a conditioning issue, an injury is still not a good thing to Peralta. Peralta is being held out of the game today- Sunday- but should return soon.
Peralta is reported as saying he is sore and a bit swollen but that fans shouldn’t worry. But shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t we St. Louis Cardinals fans be concerned with these injuries?
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Yesterday’s game had two issues that indicate issues with conditioning to me: those to Gant and Lynn. Prior to this game, though, we have already had to face Matt Carpenter needing rest and being held out of the WBC due to injury that should be avoided with appropriate conditioning.
We all know that athletes encounter injury and we all know that there is really nothing that can be done to “prevent” injuries but we also know that all MLB organizations carry conditioning departments to ensure that players are at the peak of their abilities. These departments also ensure that players can avoid and withstand nagging injuries.
All that said, the St. Louis Cardinals have had far too many players over the past three seasons face limited-to-extended DL visits due to oblique and groin issues. This says to me that additional changes are necessary in regard to conditioning.
While the team changed medical staff and changed approaches to offseason workouts in the past few years, these have not carried healthy fruit. Or, is it that we are actually seeing fewer injuries than we would see had these changes not been made? Either way, something needs to give– the Cardinals need to stay healthy and avoid injuries.
What do you think? What changes would you make? Let’s hope the remainder of spring- today is the final Sunday with regular season baseball (thank the gods)- keeps the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals healthy such that all can play on Thursday in Memphis and then all can kick off the season next Sunday!