Cardinals Lars Nootbaar to return from injured list Friday against the Diamondbacks

At long last Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar is set to return from a rib fracture that sidelined him for most of Spring Training
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day / Elsa/GettyImages

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar has been missing from the action in the first two weeks of the 2024 season after fracturing his ribs on a diving catch in Spring Training, but now Lars Nootbaar is finally ready to return to Major League action. After a pair of rehab stints in Memphis and Springfield, Nootbaar will be activated from the injured list and Pedro Pages will be optioned to Triple-A.

According to the Cardinals, Nootbaar's return was mainly due to timing, as the Cardinals likely needed Pages as insurance for Ivan Herrera with Willson Contreras unable to catch. Now that Contreras seems recovered from his hand injury, Nootbaar is ready to make his return to a Cardinals lineup that could really use some energy.

Unlike the 2023 season, the Cardinals lineup has been the issue so far and not the pitching. They're off to a much better start than they were last season, but the lineup has yet to click. Nootbaar's presence as a consistent on-base threat in the middle of the order with sneaky power could be the surge the team needs to get back on track offensively.

There could be a bit of a logjam in the lineup, though, since it looks like the Cardinals are continuing with Victor Scott II in center field despite his early struggles. Ivan Herrera, who has been one of the Cardinals' best hitters so far will need to find playing time, and with Donovan forced into a DH role, Herrera will be squeezed for opportunities. It's possible Scott could be sent to Triple-A for more opportunities to develop soon, but as currently constructed, it will be difficult for Oli Marmol to get consistent playing time for Donovan, Herrera, Contreras, and Gorman with Nootbaar in left consistently.

Regardless, it'll be great to have Lars Nootbaar's energy back in the clubhouse after such a long time away from the team. He should provide an impact right away, and if the lineup gets going this Cardinals team could be dangerous in the coming weeks.