Edman (wrist) encouraged after second, third opinions

Cards center fielder assessing rehab options as Opening Day draws closer

March 9th, 2024

JUPITER, Fla. -- Stressing that his lingering wrist pain is “more inflammation than structural [damage],” Cardinals center fielder remains confident that he will soon be back on a path toward a comeback, despite his baseball activities being shut down for a second time in as many weeks.

Edman, who was projected to be the Cardinals starting center fielder, went for a series of second and third opinions on the right wrist that required surgery in October. Edman’s return has been slowed by lingering pain and swelling in the wrist -- to the point that he has yet to hit pitching of any kind and the switch-hitter has been unable to swing the bat right-handed.

Despite not knowing exactly what the next steps will be in his rehabilitation process, Edman said he was encouraged by the medical diagnosis he received on Friday.

“We’ve gotten a couple of opinions and there’s nothing conflicting,” Edman said on Saturday before leaving the Cardinals complex following St. Louis’ 9-3 loss to New York. “We’re still trying to decide some things, but at least there’s a path forward now.”

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak admitted on Friday that Edman was “doubtful” to be ready for Opening Day on March 28 when the Cardinals face the retooled Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Edman news came a day after St. Louis determined that projected starting left fielder Lars Nootbaar will miss multiple weeks with two rib fractures on his left side.

Dylan Carlson and Alec Burleson are the leading and most experienced candidates to replace Edman and Nootbaar in the outfield in the immediate future. Rookie speedster Victor Scott II and defensive ace Michael Siani are also candidates, but they will need to play their way onto the Opening Day roster, Mozeliak said. Challenge accepted, said the 23-year-old Scott, who was the Minor Leagues co-leader in stolen bases [94] last season while also winning a Gold Glove for his defensive work.

“The thought process I’ve had coming into this is just showing the big-league club what I’m made of and how I can impact games at that big-league level,” said Scott, who is 5-for-20 with a standup triple and three stolen bases in eight games so far. “That doesn’t change.”

One other outfield option for the Cardinals could be 2022 Utility Gold Glover Brendan Donovan, who is expected to get some outfield repetitions next week, per manager Oliver Marmol. Donovan’s 2023 season ended prematurely because of a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The plan all along, Marmol said, was to keep Donovan exclusively on the infield early in Spring Training before allowing him to transition to the outfield.

Edman, a 2021 Gold Glove second baseman, shifted to shortstop and then center field in 2023 following injuries to several key players. He played so well in center field (42 games without an error) that Mozeliak tabbed him as the team’s starter at that position as far back as November.

Also, after the two sides initially disagreed on the terms of Edman’s financial compensation for 2024 and appeared headed to an arbitration hearing, the Cards and their defensive ace worked out a two-year, $16 million pact that will take Edman into free agency following the 2025 season.

The more pressing immediate matter is getting Edman back on the field in 2024. Last season, when he missed time because of trouble with his right wrist, Edman hit .248 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles and four triples in 137 games. When asked if he was bothered more by pain or stiffness in his wrist, Edman said, “It feels like swelling.”

“I’m fine as long as I’m taking a smooth, easy swing,” Edman said while mimicking a left-handed swing. “There’s more pain when I take an aggressive swing.”