Besides addressing the left quadriceps strain suffered by Ruben Tejada on Thursday, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak also answered a number of other questions as his team readies for Opening Day.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing because when he did pitch, he did throw well,” said Mozeliak. “Unfortunately, he just does not feel he can go out and do so. More importantly, when you’re in the bullpen you have got to be able to go back-to-back and he just can’t do that.”
The future remains unclear for Walden, who had rotator cuff issues end his season last year.
“I don’t know that answer,” said Mozeliak. “We’ll have a little more clarity on that probably the beginning of next week. I know he’s scheduled for an MRI sometime tomorrow and thus depending on sort of the outcome of that, once it’s read by the different physicians then we can sort of make a determination of what the future looks like.”
Walden’s injury creates an opening for Matt Bowman, who the Cardinals selected in the Rule 5 Draft this off-season.
“You’re always debating in your own head what’s your best leverage in terms of trying to do something,” said Mozeliak on the requirement of keeping Bowman on the 25-man roster. “I really feel like right now, we have to worry about sort of putting our club together and in terms of trying to do a deal, whether we tried to do it this week, next week, or a month from now, a lot of it’s just going to depend on how he’s pitching at that point but it makes it very hard to do.”
The days off in the schedule offer the Cardinals a chance to be creative with their roster structure, in particular with someone like Carlos Martinez who isn’t slated to start right away as a four-man rotation will likely be used the first time through.
“I don’t anticipate us doing anything to mess with Carlos,” said Mozeliak. “You could strategically option him, but of course you have to be down for 10 days–that gets into a little bit of a gray area. We could do it, but it’s not something I think we’d pursue.”
Mozeliak also isn’t concerned about the addition of Hazelbaker, an outfielder instead of an infielder into the mix for at-bats with Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, Brandon Moss, and Matt Adams.
“As I’ve stated all along, what we need to see happen at first base is pure production,” he explained. “Regardless of the name on the back of the jersey, we just need to see some offense come from there. I think basically what happens there, then dictates what you’ll see in the outfield. The positive for us, is we have a lot of flexibility in all these players. Really, every single one of them–with the exception of Matt Adams, can play other positions.
“Ultimately, you’re going to try and go with the hot hand and try to allow for players to perform in situations where they’re either playing first base, or somewhere else in the infield or even the outfield. I’m not overly concerned about that. I think the exciting thing is, if someone’s not in the lineup, your bench is that much stronger.”