Cecil to open regular season on injured list

Infielder Jedd Gyorko's status for Opening Day remains unclear

March 18th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- With the countdown to their season opener now at 10 days, the Cardinals continue to sift through health issues that will affect the final composition of the team’s Opening Day roster.

One individual who won’t be on it is reliever , manager Mike Shildt confirmed on Monday. Ailed by erratic mechanics, arm fatigue and a lack of feeling in two of his fingers, Cecil will begin the year on the injured list and remain in Florida to work through a throwing program.

Infielder may be staying with him.

That’s all dependent upon whether Gyorko’s right calf can heal quickly enough for him to stockpile a bunch of at-bats early next week. Gyorko won’t play in another Grapefruit League game, but he is hopeful of getting work in a Minor League setting, perhaps by this weekend.

The biggest hurdle still to clear is running the bases without feeling any tightness.

“Cautiously optimistic that I’ll still be ready [by Opening Day],” said Gyorko, whose last Grapefruit League appearance came on March 3. “We hope it responds to treatment and I start moving around. If I can get [in] some games down here, I should be ready for Opening Day. If I don’t play any games down here, it might be something where we wait. There’s no point in going out there and not being healthy.”

By keeping Gyorko out of Grapefruit League play, the Cardinals keep open the option of backdating a stint on the injured list, should Gyorko need one. Minor League settings also allow the Cardinals to be more creative with Gyorko’s work.

He’d have the flexibility to hit in every inning, for instance, or jump from one field to another to play different positions.

“It’s not like I need a ton of [at-bats],” said Gyorko, who has been participating in batting practice while sidelined. “But if I can get a bunch of at-bats in two or three days, and I feel like my timing is where I need to be, I can go out and play.”

With Gyorko’s status uncertain, the Cardinals plan to take utility infielders Yairo Muñoz and Drew Robinson to Milwaukee, where they will open the season with a four-game series against the Brewers. Both would likely crack the 25-man roster if Gyorko isn’t ready for the March 28 opener.

Munoz entered Monday's game against the Phillies 10-for-33 with three doubles this spring. Robinson had nine hits, including three for extra bases, in 40 at-bats.

The Cardinals will also keep a close eye on infielder Matt Carpenter, who isn’t expected back in the lineup until at least Friday. Shildt said he is not concerned about Carpenter’s back tightness becoming a lingering issue that could jeopardize his readiness for Opening Day.

“The good news is he’s got a body of work in place that he has a reference point to and he won’t be off too long,” Shildt said. “He had had a very impressive spring, all the way around.”

Cecil’s timeline is much more nebulous, as is his injury. Shildt defined it as “fatigue.” Cecil said he has been bothered by a lack of feeling in his left index and middle fingers since his last Grapefruit League appearance on March 10. General manager Michael Girsch explained the diagnosis as median nerve tension.

The training staff believed that a nerve in Cecil’s left shoulder is being pinched each time he goes through his motion to throw. Girsch said Cecil is expected to visit a specialist to undergo more testing. 

“We just couldn’t figure out why I was throwing on the side of the ball,” Cecil said. “Every pitch I threw, I looked like I was throwing a football. I couldn’t feel the ball coming off my two fingers.”

Cecil also complained of spasms in his right forearm for the last five days. None of it got worked out during a lengthy bullpen session last week.

The Cards have prescribed rest for the next week, after which Cecil will try to resume his throwing program. The 32-year-old lefty has been trying to sync his mechanics since showing up to Spring Training about 40 pounds lighter.

“You look at him, he came in in tremendous, better shape and in a really good mental place,” Shildt said. “[He] just hadn’t been able to get it going and have everything come together physically. It’s disappointing for him and for us.”