JUPITER, Fla. -- When the Cardinals named Luke Gregerson their closer prior to Spring Training, they were expecting the Grapefruit League schedule to help determine whether he'd remain in that role. Now a sizeable chunk of Gregerson's spring is threatened after an MRI revealed irritation in his oblique."He's going to
JUPITER, Fla. -- When the Cardinals named Luke Gregerson their closer prior to Spring Training, they were expecting the Grapefruit League schedule to help determine whether he'd remain in that role. Now a sizeable chunk of Gregerson's spring is threatened after an MRI revealed irritation in his oblique.
"He's going to be held back a little bit," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's something to be cautious about."
The right-hander first reported feeling tightness in his side earlier this week, before he was scheduled to appear in St. Louis' 4-4 tie with the Marlins on Tuesday. Matheny revealed the injury after Gregerson didn't appear again Wednesday, when the Cardinals beat the Nationals 4-3.
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"From what I heard, it wasn't one of those ones that made us say, 'Whoa,'" Matheny said. "Usually there is a degree of the injury. I don't have that for you off the top of my head, but the trainers weren't as concerned."
Gregerson is the third Cardinals player to be hindered by an oblique injury this spring, and the club's first pitcher. The other two -- prospects Max Schrock and Tyler O'Neill -- missed varying degrees of time as a result.
Schrock, a second baseman and the club's No. 10 prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline, sustained an oblique strain while swinging on the first day of camp and hasn't appeared in a Grapefruit League game. No. 4 prospect O'Neill missed eight games before returning to pinch-run Wednesday, though he's not yet cleared to hit.
Matheny described Gregerson's injury as minor, saying, "it doesn't seem very bad" and equating it roughly in severity to O'Neill's. The club had already been careful not to push the 35-year-old Gregerson this spring; he has appeared in one Grapefruit League game to this point.
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Even the most mild oblique strains typically require at least a week to recover from, though that often stretches into two weeks. The club doesn't plan to rush Gregerson back in any way. If he needs two weeks, that puts him back on a mound some time during the final week of Spring Training.
"[Oblique injuries] are one of the negatives about how muscular our guys get now," Matheny said. "But the 'pro' side of that is how quickly they come back, because of their training, because of their muscle structure. The older guys will be the first ones to say they never had an oblique injury because they never had one to pull back then. It's a give and take, a 'Catch 22' of sorts. It's amazing how quickly guys are coming back from them now."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.