(Busch Stadium) For the 20th time this season, Marcell Ozuna drove in multiple runs as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 on Tuesday night.
“Yeah, I feel better,” said Ozuna, who has dealt with shoulder inflammation all season. “I’m getting more contact and working everyday in the cage. I’m not chasing so much like before, but the reason was that my arm was not in the right spot. Right now, my arm feels better and then I have a better swing.”
Activated from the 10-day disabled list on September 1st, Ozuna has hit .433 (13-30) with 5 HRs in his last seven games. He had a 2-run double and added another run on a sacrifice fly in Tuesday’s win.
“When my arm’s good, I can stay inside and make a good swing,” explained Ozuna. “I can’t talk about it because the only guy who can trust what happened and know what happened is me. Maybe sometime I’ll tell it to somebody and they might not really think, ‘how hard has it been?'”
The Cardinals were aware of the issue when they acquired him via trade this past off-season from Miami. Ozuna was coming off a season in which he hit 37 home runs and drove in 124 runs.
“It’s more like I couldn’t get inside when I had that problem before,” said Ozuna. “Last year, I was having the same problem but it didn’t bother me like this year. Last year, I wasn’t ready to fire every time and I wasn’t in the right spot to swing at the pitch.”
While on the disabled list, Ozuna received a cortisone injection and says his arm feels “way better”. That said, there is still discomfort to deal with.
“It’s like you stop throwing for a long time and then I come back, no warming up and throw harder,” compared Ozuna. “Or if you have a car and you don’t turn it on for a long time, maybe the battery is going dead or something like that.”
While the issue has been around for some time, the outfielder is confident that rest and his training program will resolve the situation moving forward without a procedure in the off-season.
“It’s going good, I’m working everyday in the training room,” said Ozuna. “That for me, I think I’m going to be good for the next year if I give it the treatment everyday.”
Besides his arm feeling better, Ozuna is also drawing inspiration from the new experience of playing meaningful baseball in September.
“For me, that’s impressive,” he said. “I’ve never been in that spot before. One year, we almost made the playoffs but we didn’t really have the pitching staff we have now on this new ball team.”
“Every at-bat I go up there, I fight to push my team on top,” said Ozuna. “There’s more energy in the air and the dugout is hyper. I like it. I like the energy all my teammates are bringing.”
With their latest win, the Cardinals improved to 81-64 on the season and are now 3.0 games up in the second NL Wild Card position.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports