On the same day the Cardinals activated catcher Yadier Molina from the disabled list, the club disclosed that backup catcher Tony Cruz had been playing several weeks with an ache in his left forearm that the team learned Monday was a stress fracture.
The Cardinals placed Cruz on the 15-day disabled list to allow the injury to heal and optioned infielder Jermaine Curtis to Class AAA Memphis. Molina (knee) and Shane Robinson (shoulder) returned from the DL to take the open spots on the active roster.
“When Yadi got injured, (Cruz’s) workload went up significantly and unfortunately the forearm was not responding to where we thought it was getting better,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “They thought the best thing for him was to shut down from swinging for at least seven to 10 days, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Cruz said he was told to rest for 10 days.
Cruz said the injury to his forearm was not caused by an event, but rather developed over time. He has worn a compression sleeve on the arm for more than a month to help with the pain. He also limited his swings in recent weeks because of soreness.
On Monday, he went for an MRI scan and CAT-scan of the forearm. That exam revealed a stress fracture – Mozeliak called it a “microfracture” – in the middle of the forearm. Cruz said the physician recommended he “shut it down” and told him Monday that if he kept playing there was a chance the fracture would increase in severity.
Cruz started Tuesday and Wednesday at catcher.
“There was a chance of an actual break,” Cruz said. “That was the risk I was taking.”
Said Matheny: “We were told he’d be OK to play as long as we were real careful and we were aware of what was going on in there. We were careful.”
Cruz did not take full batting practice either day and caught a total of 17 innings with six at-bats. He started 11 of the team’s 14 games while Molina was on the DL.
It’s possible that Cruz will remain on the disabled list until Sept. 1, when rosters are allowed to expand beyond the current 25-man limit. Cruz going on the DL allowed the Cardinals to add Molina and keep veteran Rob Johnson on the active roster so that they’ll have three catchers available during September. Johnson would have to pass through waivers to return to Memphis, and the Cardinals believed several weeks ago that another team would have grabbed Johnson if given the chance.
“It was bothering me quite a bit and it’s a grind. I tried to hang in there as long as I could,” Cruz said. “I’d rather be out there with the guys. Hopefully this is what it takes to get better.”
DEWITT ON REPLAY
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. returned from baseball’s meetings this week in Cooperstown, N.Y., encouraged by what he heard about the next step in the league’s plan regarding instant replay. Commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday that Major League Baseball will enhance its video review rules to allow managers a certain amount of challenges per game.
A 75 percent vote of the owners is necessary to approve the expansion, and DeWitt, who attended the presentation of the new system, was optimistic it will be welcomed. The players’ union and umpires would have to agree to the changes, too.
“I think it’s a great outcome to all of the discussion that we’ve had about instant replay and how it fits into the game,” DeWitt said. “First off, plays that are close we know they are going to be called correctly. And second, it also will be interesting to see how each manager uses his appeals. Does he save one? Save two? The strategizing of it will add to the game. This is the solution that we have now. I think instant replay will continue to evolve. We started with home run boundaries. This is the next phase. Maybe it ends here or we see another area it has to go.”
Rookie Michael Wacha debuted as a big-league reliever late Wednesday night with two perfect innings and four strikeouts from six batters. The Cardinals want to work him into higher-impact innings, but Matheny acknowledged the team will tread cautiously when it comes to using the righthander, who is in his first full season as a pro, on back-to-back games.
“I imagine it’s going to be how quickly he bounces back, how he shows the trainers his strength is bouncing back,” Matheny said. “Let’s say a week from now he goes an inning like he did the first one (Wednesday) and he throws seven or nine pitches. There’s a good chance he might throw the next night. That’s not in the real near future. But I think it’s something we can’t completely rule out down the road.”
Prospect Oscar Taveras’ ankle surgery will be Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. As reported in Thursday’s Post-Dispatch, the outfielder requires a procedure to address a lingering high ankle sprain and the surgery will end his season. … The Cardinals drew more than 40,000 for all 10 games of the home stand.
… Right fielder Carlos Beltran received a scheduled day off Thursday due to general aches that were not related to fouling a ball off his instep Sunday. Beltran had a pinch-hit appearance in the 10th inning. … In his third at-bat of the series, middle reliever Seth Maness singled in the sixth inning for his first major-league hit. … Mozeliak described this month’s waiver activity as “slow,” though he didn’t rule out finding an addition for the team through an August trade. “It’s obviously something, we have to pay attention,” he said, “and if there’s something out there that we think makes sense, we’re going to pursue it.”