DeJong Moves to Next Phase


The progress continues for St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong who had a positive checkup with doctors yesterday and provided a CT scan goes well tomorrow, should be cleared to start hitting.

“Continuing to see new bone growth,” said DeJong. “There’s still a small fracture line present still, but that’s to be expected. He’s not concerned with anything where I’m at right now, he’s actually optimistic about the progressions I’ve made. We’re just going to continue to stay on that same path and take it kind of week by week and almost day by day.”

On the disabled list since May 18th with a left hand fracture, DeJong has been slowly ramping up more and more activity before games–throwing baseballs, then fielding ground balls. But he has yet to hit a baseball.

“Everything feels pretty good,” said DeJong. “Just feel a little weak in my grip strength is all but I’ll work on that stuff in the weight room. Dry swings, I’m starting to incorporate–so I’m starting to get a bat in my hands and try to feel where I’m at and go from there.”

Even with a full range of motion in his fingers, a gradual return of the grip strength is expected.

“The doctor said that the heavy grip strength and torque on it would be the most dangerous thing I could do right now,” said DeJong. “So really, I’m not trying to strengthen it as much as trying to work into weights I know I can handle and go up from there–trying to go in kind of the same direction, no rotating of the wrist. Trying to keep the neutral wrist as straight as I can.”

Dropping his pinkie finger off the end of the bat to swing is not an option

“I’ve always been swing a little longer bat and choke up maybe half or a quarter inch above the nob, so the pinkie will never be on there,” said DeJong. “I think for me to have full strength, I need to have all my fingers on the bat.”

“It’s one of those things, I feel like I’m in the next phase of recovery,” said DeJong. “I’ve moved out of the surgery phase to the moving around phase, to now getting back into baseball. We’ll just keep ramping it up and hopefully by next week I’ll be hitting again.”

FRIENDS FROM HOME

Besides good news regarding his hand, DeJong also enjoyed an early afternoon visit with a youth team from his hometown of Antioch, Illinois. Friends with parents from siblings playing.

“A lot of good families in Antioch, so they were coming down here for a tournament and wanted to say ‘hi’,”said DeJong, who took photos and signed baseballs for the group. “Hoping to inspire them as much as I can. I know the Antioch varsity boys team went to the Super-Sectional and were a game away from State. I never even won a Regional. For them to be able to do that, they’re definitely on the right track.”

While some of the adults in this group were friends with his parents from when Paul’s siblings played little league, he still makes it a point to interact with young fans.

“Stuff changes pretty quickly, it wasn’t too long ago I was in their shoes,” said DeJong. “I actually met Darwin Barney when I was in high school. We went to a Cubs game, it got rained out and we were just walking around the stadium and he was standing right there. We said ‘hi’ and I thought how cool that was for him to just say hello and take a picture with us even though he didn’t know who we were. So, I try to just be a good role model for the kids and inspire them to keep playing baseball.”

photo credit: Charles LeClaire, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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