The Cardinals have activated LF Marcell Ozuna from the 10-day IL today. To make room on the 25-man roster, Tyler O’Neill was placed on the 10-day IL with a left wrist strain, retroactive to August 1st.
The Cards placed Ozuna on the IL on June 29 after he broke a couple of fingers on his right hand when he dove back into first base on a pickoff play in the previous day’s game against the Padres. He started a rehab assignment in AAA Memphis on July 30, and although rehab assignments can last for up to 20 days for position players, he was only on it for 4 days. He started the first 3 available games in LF for the Redbirds, and in the first 2 games was removed early. In Thursday night’s game on August 1st, he played the whole game and was a triple short of the cycle, as he went 3-4 with 5 RBIs and a 3-run HR. He also walked and was hit by a pitch. Ozuna sat out yesterday’s game, presumably so he could travel to Oakland to be ready to play today.
I started to write this post before I learned the Cards’ corresponding roster move, and had planned to go into a discussion about how now would be the perfect time to test Shildt’s roster management. With O’Neill being a potential starter next year and a player who had struggled in part-time duty in the past and needs at-bats consistent at-bats to work on his contact issues, how would Shildt handle the outfield situation? Perhaps the true test wouldn’t surface for the next two games with the DH being available in Oakland’s park, but we would all be watching closely to see if O’Neill would be given the chance to start in the outfield instead of Jose Martinez, Yairo Munoz or even Lane Thomas.
We won’t know the answer to this for a little while longer, as O’Neill has now been placed on the IL himself. Scratched from Thursday night’s start with what the club reported as a “minor hand issue,” he won’t be eligible to return until Sunday August 11th, a day game before an off-day, and the last game of a 3-game home series with the Pirates.
This is hot off the press, and I have yet to see any reporting that discloses how O’Neill hurt himself, but this is a disappointing development. Although O’Neill did get most of the starts in LF while Ozuna was on the shelf, it seems like every time O’Neill starts to get into a playing time groove, he comes down with one malady or another. No one knows how serious this is, but wrist injuries can nag a player for a long time and have been known to sap power, depending on the seriousness. On the year so far in 46 games for the Cards, he has slashed .279/.316/.434 with 5 HR, a 5.1% BB rate, 33.8% SO rate, and a 97 wRC+. The SO rate looks bad, but he improved it from 46.2% early in the year.
Ozuna might be slotted into the DH spot during the Oakland series so he doesn’t have to throw, but it will be interesting to see what Shildt does in the outfield.
ADDITIONAL HILARITY ON THE GYORKO TRADE
Remember Jeffry Abreu, the 19-year old prospect that we received in the very interesting trade of Jedd Gyorko to the Dodgers? On August 1st, the Cards assigned him to the Gulf Coast League. On August 2nd, they put him on the 60-day IL, shutting him down for the rest of the season. The Cards had to have known about his injury before agreeing to the trade, but you can’t help but just marvel at the strangeness of the whole thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a trade the Cards have made where everyone involved was injured.