PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong's lower back tightness will keep him out of Grapefruit League play for at least, "a few days," manager Oliver Marmol updated Wednesday before the Cardinals hit the road for an exhibition game against the Mets.
DeJong was scratched from Tuesday's lineup and replaced by prospect Masyn Winn in a road game against the Astros after he felt lower back tightness while fielding grounders. The issue is affecting DeJong's defense more than his swing, Marmol said, but the Cardinals are, for now, limiting him to treatment and weight-room work.
This is the second time a physical setback has altered DeJong's camp, a crucial one for the former All-Star who is trying to prove swing changes can alter a seasons-long production decline at the plate. DeJong continued to play through his previous issue, which was described by the player and the team as a dead arm spell. He could swing and took at-bats as a designated hitter but was limited in his throwing earlier in camp. He had returned to playing in the field before this new lower-back issue.
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"It's not ideal," Marmol said. "He worked really hard this offseason to address certain things with his swing. Our hope was he would get a decent amount of at-bats, especially with (Tommy) Edman going to the (World Baseball Classic). Unfortunately that is not the way this has worked out."
Starting shortstop Edman is expected back in Cardinals camp on Wednesday following his return from WBC elimination, which could complicate DeJong's opportunity for Grapefruit League at-bats. Marmol mentioned DeJong could see an increase in back-field reps as one possible solution. First, he has to be able to play. DeJong's 13 Grapefruit League at-bats this spring rank 16th on the team. That's half as many at-bats as Winn, who leads off against the Mets today. DeJong is 2-for-13 with one double, one home run, six walks and one strikeout. His most recent game was March 11.
The Cardinals play the Mets at 12:10 p.m. More coverage coming here at STLToday.com, and in the pages of tomorrow's Post-Dispatch.
1. Masyn Winn, SS
2. Dylan Carlson, CF
3. Juan Yepez, DH
4. Alec Burleson, 1B
5. Taylor Motter, 3B
6. Moises Gomez, RF
7. Andrew Knizner, C
8. Kramer Robertson, 2B
9. Victor Scott II, LF
Cardinals starting pitcher: LHP Connor Thomas
Other pitchers on trip: Ryan Helsley, Tink Hence, Jordan Hicks, Wilking Rodriguez, Chris Stratton and Drew VerHagen