The St. Louis Cardinals outfield has been in taters to begin the regular season. They bet on their young outfield to take the next step. For the most part, with the exception of Dylan Carlson, that gamble has not panned out.
The injury to Harrison Bader is a large reason why. He is a Gold Glove caliber center fielder and makes the rest of the outfielders’ jobs a lot less difficult in games. But he injured his forearm during spring training and has not played a game this season, though most reports indicate that a return is near for their center fielder.
When asked about Bader, manager Mike Shildt told reporters (including Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), that Bader is basically is at full speed. He’s now throwing to his comfort level, extending out as far as he needs to throw. He’s now in a live batting practice setting (in Sauget).”
If Bader continues to progress, and there’s every indication that he will, he should join the Cardinals in 7-10 days, Shildt added. It would immediately start the clock on what is easily Bader’s most important season in the majors while allowing the club to move Carlson back to right field and deploy an outfield similar to what they envisioned on Opening Day.
How Bader performs once he returns will be critical. Not only will be tasked with improving the outfield defense that has been shaky at best, he will be asked to significantly improve his .234/.322/.399 career slash line in four seasons.
Bader, who is never short on confidence, believes he will be able to do that. The Cardinals are hopeful he is right. We’re about to find out if he’s up for the task — and it very well could determine how long Bader remains in St. Louis.