Injuries & Moves: RHP Rodriguez returns on Minors deal

December 7th, 2023

Continue to check this page throughout the offseason for the latest injuries and roster updates.


Nov. 21: RHP  re-signed to Minor League deal
Outrighted last week to make room on the 40-man roster, Rodriguez re-signed with the Cardinals on a Minor League deal, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on Tuesday.

Rodriguez, who was selected in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft out of the Yankees' organization, elected free agency after being outrighted. The hard-throwing right-hander, who didn’t pitch at the MLB level this past season because of a shoulder injury, was offered back to the Yankees, per the Rule 5 rules, but New York declined its option and Rodriguez cleared waivers, making him a free agent.

A native of Venezuela, Rodriguez pitched in two MLB games with the Royals in 2014. The Cardinals discovered him while he was pitching in the Mexican League in '22, but they were unable to negotiate a buyout to bring him to St. Louis. The Yankees signed Rodriguez following the '22 Mexican League season, but they left him unprotected, which allowed the Cardinals to pick him in the Rule 5 Draft.

The 33-year-old Rodriguez was bothered by shoulder pain during Spring Training. He was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 27, and he later had an arthroscopic procedure on his shoulder. He pitched in seven games with Triple-A Memphis, but he was shut down when the shoulder pain returned.

Nov. 14: RHPs Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse, C Pedro Pagés added to roster
Working to protect two assets acquired in a late July trade and a possible catcher of the future, the Cardinals selected the contracts of Kloffenstein, Robberse and Pagés. Adding those players to the 40-player Major League roster protected them from being plucked by another organization in the Dec. 6 Rule 5 Draft.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Packy Naughton was assigned outright to Triple-A Memphis and once-promising lefty starter Connor Thomas was designated for assignment. Righty reliever Wilking Rodríguez elected free agency instead of accepting assignment to Memphis. Naughton (left elbow ligament surgery) and Rodríguez (right shoulder surgery) missed most of the 2023 season.

The Cardinals acquired Kloffenstein and Robberse in a trade with the Blue Jays for reliever Jordan Hicks prior to the 2023 Trade Deadline. Robberse pitched in the MLB Futures Game this past season. Kloffenstein bounced back from a couple of rough seasons in the Toronto system by posting a 3.16 ERA and a .228 batting average against in 2023. Those marks were 3.00 and .209 after he joined the Cards’ organization.

Rodríguez, who was plucked away from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft last December, didn’t pitch at the MLB level this past season because of his shoulder injury and was offered back to the Yankees, per the Rule 5 Draft procedures. When New York declined its option and Rodríguez cleared waivers, he became a free agent. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has said there is interest in bringing Rodríguez back for next season.


INF/OF (left thumb fracture)
Expected return: 2024
On Sept. 19, Burleson jammed his thumb on the bag as he slid in head first stealing third base. Cardinals head athletic trainer Adam Olsen and manager Oliver Marmol came out to check on Burleson, who stayed in the game. After scoring on a Nolan Arenado sacrifice fly, Burleson headed down the tunnel to the clubhouse to have his thumb X-rayed, and the fracture was revealed.

He had surgery in late September, where a stabilizing pin was inserted, according to Marmol. Burleson is out of the cast and has only a fabric protective sleeve over the thumb. He should be able to begin baseball drills in November. (Last updated: Oct. 1)

RHP (right shoulder pain)
Expected return: 2024
Rodriguez, a Rule 5 Draft selection from the Yankees who was supposed to contend for a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen, underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

Rodriguez put himself in a position to make an appearance in the final series against the Reds, but the Cardinals deemed the risk to be too great. The club will have Rodriguez on a throwing program over the offseason and it will continue to monitor his progress. Rodriguez appeared in seven Spring Training games, but he opened the regular season on the injured list because of recurring shoulder pain. He made three appearances with Triple-A Memphis, but pain eventually returned in his shoulder. (Last updated: Oct. 1)

OF (lingering ankle soreness, oblique strain)
Expected return: Spring Training 2024
Carlson was placed on the 10-day injured list on Aug. 12 because of a left oblique strain. He also dealt with a left ankle injury he sustained in May, and he received a pain-killing injection in that ankle on Aug. 21.

Carlson resumed light baseball activity in mid-September before deciding on Sept. 13 to undergo arthroscopic surgery on the ankle. He had the operation Sept. 19 to remove bone spurs from his left ankle in Charlotte, N.C., and was moved to the 60-day IL on Sept. 22. Carlson has been back with the team the past few days, but he ended the season on crutches. He is expected to resume light drill work in approximately six weeks, and the Cardinals are counting on him to be ready by the start of Spring Training. (Last updated: Oct. 1)

RHP (right forearm strain)
Expected return: TBD
Zuñiga was recalled on Aug. 25 from Triple-A Memphis after right-hander Drew VerHagen was placed on the bereavement list. He began feeling pain in the forearm during a bullpen session shortly before landing on the IL.

Zuñiga was transferred to the 60-day IL on Sept. 2. He has been back with the team, but there is no firm timetable on when he will begin an offseason throwing program. (Last updated: Oct. 1)

INF/OF (right elbow surgery)
Expected return: Spring Training 2024
Donovan, who was back around the Cardinals for their final home series against the Reds, underwent season-ending surgery on Aug. 2 to repair the damaged ligament in his right elbow. Donovan was a candidate for the interior brace procedure -- one that repairs and anchors the ligament -- rather than Tommy John surgery.

Donovan, who has been back in Jupiter, Fla., and training at the Cardinals’ complex, is out of the arm brace he wore for weeks and should be ready for the start of Spring Training in 2024, manager Oliver Marmol said. For the season, Donovan hit .284 with a career-best .787 OPS after smashing 11 home runs and 10 doubles and driving in 34 runs. (Last updated: Oct. 1)

LHP (left forearm strain)
Expected return: Spring Training 2024
Naughton was forced to leave the April 7 loss to the Brewers in the eighth inning with numbness in his left arm. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said on June 19 that Naughton would undergo surgery on June 26, sidelining the left-hander for the remainder of 2023. Rather than having ligament replacement surgery, Naughton had a procedure where the ligament was repaired and braced. He has been working out for months at the team’s headquarters in Jupiter, Fla., and he should be ready for Spring Training. (Last updated: Oct. 1)