As the St. Louis Cardinals search for more outfield depth, the team has recalled outfielder Lane Thomas and optioned pitcher Johan Oviedo, the team announced.
Thomas, 25, looked the part of a quality major-league outfielder in 2019, hitting .316/.409/.684 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 38 plate appearances. He tested positive for COVID-19 the next season and his career has not returned to the same level, as he has only six hits in his last 45 at-bats while hitting only one home run with two RBI.
The Cardinals wisely optioned Thomas at the beginning of the season after he hit only .222/.300/.222 in nine at-bats, resembling nothing of the player who showed so much promise only a couple years prior. Where he struggled is not getting quality at-bats — there were almost always three outfielders getting playing time over him — and he failed to get into a rhythm at the plate.
With Triple-A Memphis’ season starting up, Thomas was able to get those at-bats. There is hope that can help translate to more success at the big league level, though he is going to be in a similar position to what it was in years past as Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, Austin Dean and Tyler O’Neill are all ahead of him on the depth chart.
Perhaps Thomas can earn his way to more playing time. After all, it is not like Dean and O’Neill are high-end major-league players, so there is playing time to be won. But Thomas will have to earn it and his opportunity to do that started on Thursday, though he was not in the Cardinals’ starting lineup against the New York Mets.
But once he does get playing time, whether it be a spot start or pinch hitting appearance late in games, Thomas will have to make the most of it — and some inside the organization remain optimistic he will be able to do that.