Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
David Freese's lingering back injury shouldn't worry you yet, except inasmuch as it reminds you of David Freese's health.
David Freese played 144 games for the St. Louis Cardinals last year. That was less improbable than his World Series run from the year before that, but not a lot less improbable; in the three seasons before, having all-but-won the third base job each time, he played a total of 184 regular season games. The back injury that's bugged him through March isn't an ankle problem (by definition), so it's probably not cause for panic. But David Freese's health? Well, that's kind of a constant, low-grade cause for panic, isn't it?
Well, yes—but low-grade is probably as far as I'd take it. Few players get healthier as they reach their age-30 season, and players like J.D. Drew have turned a series of what-are-the-odds injuries (Freese's 2011 injury was a broken hand from a pitched ball), but his ankle problems feel, to me, more like a pitcher's deteriorating elbow than a position player's nagging complaints. Like an elbow ligament, his ankles flared up again and again until they finally failed and he finally had David Freese Surgery, one of which involved one of your less-attractive uses of the word "shaving."
The good news is that the Cardinals have depth at the position. Assuming Matt Carpenter wins the second base job, any significant Freese injury would probably result in Daniel Descalso's reemergence at second, upgrading the defense there and offsetting some of the significant offensive gap between the two. (In effect, then, the Cardinals also have a prospect ready to take over; Kolten Wong could slide in and force the same lineup calculus.)
His postseason blitz and a big 2012 season mean the Cardinals have already gotten more from Freese than we could have reasonably expected even before the injury problems cropped up. If he struggles with injuries again in 2013 it won't be a surprise, but their depth, at least, means it won't be a disaster.