JUPITER, Fla. • Not only was Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal unable to play Saturday, which had been his target date a few days before, he has no idea when he again will test his ailing right elbow.
Furcal, who suffered a torn ligament in the elbow Aug. 30 and then was plagued by a bone spur this spring, said he began to feel worse the more he stepped up his throwing program the last few days.
“What do you want me to do?” Furcal asked, not really expecting an answer. “It’s not getting better. I wish I could do whatever I could to make it better, so I could play.”
Furcal has been shut down from throwing and even hitting. He last had competed in a “B” game on Thursday, taking several at-bats.
“It’s very disappointing,” Furcal said. “I tried to push it a little harder. We’d better back up a little bit because I feel more pain.”
For now, Furcal will rest. Asked the $64,000 question, if he will be ready for the start of the season (April 1), Furcal responded, “I don’t know. I wish to know if I will be ready. But you never know.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke in circumspect terms about Furcal, 35, before Saturday’s exhibition game and addressed the issue a bit more afterward. But he has to be concerned about Furcal — and the shortstop spot in general.
“He hasn’t been (feeling) real good,” said Matheny, “so you’ve got to adjust.”
The Cardinals’ season is slated to start four weeks from Monday night in Arizona, and Furcal hasn’t played in the field yet in spring training. Ronny Cedeno, signed as a free agent, hasn’t been good at bat, hitting .167 and he made two bad throwing errors on Saturday in a 6-2 loss to Washington.
Pete Kozma, who finished last season as the shortstop, might well start this one as the shortstop if he continues to hit (he is at .333) and play decently in the field.
“We’ve got to roll with what we’ve got,” said Matheny, who probably almost is to the point that if Furcal is available near the start of the season, he would consider it will be a bonus.
For the moment the Cardinals are surveying their options, medically and otherwise. Matheny, not speculating on how long Furcal will be shut down, said, “He’ll be looked at. We’ll keep evaluating him and then we’ll see.
“No real statement, yet. There have been a couple of recent (developments), so we don’t know what we’re dealing with yet.”
The bone spur for Furcal had been a problem this spring, but the ligament apparently again is the issue.
“We knew it was going to be off and on,” Matheny said. “He feels something more than he has. That gives us reason for concern.
“We’re at the point where he’s got to do stuff. He’s already rehabbed as much as he can, so he’s got to throw the ball and we’ve got to find out where we are.”