How Harrison Bader’s return impacts the St. Louis Cardinals
It happened. The return of Harrison Bader has finally arrived, and it should have an immediate impact on the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfield.
There have been reports for weeks indicating that Harrison Bader was on the doorstep of returning for the St. Louis Cardinals. At long last, that moment has arrived.
The Cardinals activated Bader off the Injured List after he missed the first month of the regular season with a forearm injury. The move came at a cost, however, as the team placed Adam Wainwright (COVID-19 IL) and Adam Wainwright (right toe blister) on the Injured List. But the return of Bader is crucial and comes at an ideal time for the organization.
Bader was expected to provide a veteran presence in what is one of the youngest outfields in baseball. With Bader out, the Cardinals were forced to shift Dylan Carlson into a more prominent role in center field. It also led to increased playing time for players such as Lane Thomas, Tyler O’Neill, Austin Dean and Justin Williams.
Carlson, 22, stepped up to the plate, hitting .286/.371/.500 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games. But the other players are all hitting .200 or less. O’Neill just came off the Injured List while Thomas is at the alternate site after struggling in a brief stint with the major-league team.
The Cardinals hope that Bader can stabilize things, but even that is no guarantee. While he plays elite defense in center field, his bat entered spring training as one of the biggest unknowns surrounding the organization. Bader and the coaching staff expressed confidence that he would be significantly improved from where he was in previous seasons, but missing the first month of the season immediately puts him behind the eight ball in terms of eliminating those doubts.
Now, the time comes for Bader to quiet those concerns. But his return to the Cardinals could not have come at a better time. Their outfield defense should reap the rewards because of it.