As Spring Training got underway a couple of weeks ago, Jordan Schafer was among those most excited to be in camp, again looking to become a dual threat for the St. Louis Cardinals–a left-handed reliever who can also play any of the three outfield positions.
“I’m not even 11 months out of surgery right now,” he reminded. “I’m just excited to get out there, honestly. Last year, it was extremely devastating for me. Like I said, I felt ‘hey, I’m out there. I’m competing. I’m doing well. I’m throwing through some pain.’ Stuff started to snowball a little bit, I tried to throw through stuff and it went.”
On March 12th of last year, Schafer was forced out of a 7th inning appearance due to tightness in his forearm. Less than a week later, he was recovering from UCL surgery–the modified or “nail down” version of the Tommy John procedure, which was performed by Dr. George Paletta.
“They didn’t have to put a new tendon in, they could still use my same ligament,” said Schafer. “Obviously, it was frustrating especially because I felt camp was going well and things were looking good.”
“I had that setback, but I’m extremely grateful for the Cardinals organization to bring me back and give me another opportunity.”
The disappointment and frustration of last year only added to the excitement and optimism for Schafer coming into 2018 without any restrictions.
“My arm, honestly, hasn’t felt loose and free like this in a very long time,” he said a day after throwing his first bullpen.
But now the 31-year old lefty is dealing with the experience not unlike others who have had the UCL surgery before him, it is a long road back–even after you feel good.
Making his second Grapefruit League appearance this afternoon, he was taken out of the game after recording just one out. In his 0.2 combined innings pitched, Schafer has allowed 7 runs (all earned) on 6 hits, with a home run and three walks.
Being a left-handed hitter, with plus speed and capable of playing all three outfield spots are checks in favor for Schafer. But as was the case last year, for him to make the 25-man roster it would need to be as a pitcher.
“All of those things are big bonuses for me and they really help a team,” said Schafer. “But it all comes back down to first, can I pitch and get guys out?”
GREAT WHITE STL-NORTH
–Add Seung Hwan Oh to the growing list of former St. Louis Cardinals now with the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal was announced as a one-year contract, with an option for 2019 based on appearances.
Oh joins Aledmys Diaz, Jaime Garcia, and Randal Grichuk as former Birds now wearing blue instead of red.
SIGHTS AROUND CAMP
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com