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Bader back with new swing, clear mind

Cardinals CF's playing time TBD by performance
@LangoschMLB
August 20, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Harrison Bader's 23-day stint with Triple-A Memphis concluded when he was recalled on Tuesday, and he brought back with him a pair of extra items in tow. That is, a clear mind and a fixed swing. Bader is hopeful that the combination can help him salvage a

ST. LOUIS -- Harrison Bader's 23-day stint with Triple-A Memphis concluded when he was recalled on Tuesday, and he brought back with him a pair of extra items in tow. That is, a clear mind and a fixed swing.

Bader is hopeful that the combination can help him salvage a season in which he’s had little to no offensive traction. Bader’s demotion on July 29 came on the heels of a 3-for-32 stretch that left him lugging a .195/.309/.339 slash line.

He was hardly caught off guard, then, when he was summoned to a five-person meeting in which president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and manager Mike Shildt were present. They, along with coaches Oliver Marmol and Jeff Albert, assessed what had gone awry and offered Bader the chance to work his way out of the funk in a new setting.

Bader welcomed the opportunity.

“You understand where you are in this game,” said Bader. “I didn’t feel like myself to a degree -- mainly the physical pieces to my swing just deteriorated for whatever reason. So, to have the ability to work back toward feeling different aspects of my swing again [was important].”

Bader announced his return in a big way during the Cardinals' 9-4 win over the Brewers on Tuesday. He reached base four times -- via three walks, including one with the bases loaded, and a triple -- and made two diving catches, including a five-star play that had just a 15 percent catch probability.

With Memphis, Bader worked closely with hitting coach Jobel Jimenez until Jimenez was promoted to the Major League staff on Aug. 12. By then, Bader was already feeling back in sync. He closed his stay in Memphis with an eight-game hitting streak, during which he mashed six homers, tallied 12 RBIs and scored 16 runs.

“Just regrouping, pressing the resetting button and going out there to play in a non-pressured zone, if you will, down in Triple-A, I feel really good,” Bader said. “I’m proud of the work I did down there. I’m a little sharper. I’m just looking forward to playing. It’s going to be great to put a Cardinals uniform back on. Even though I was only gone for [23] days, I missed every second of it.”

How Bader will be utilized moving forward will be influenced, of course, by how he plays. Bader started on Tuesday largely for matchup reasons -- he’s a career .256/.328/.488 hitter against lefties -- and he enters a crowded outfield mix that also includes Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas, Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz.

“He has earned the opportunity to come back, but we’ve also played well and guys have earned the opportunity to continue to play,” Shildt said. “I think what you’ll continue to see is opportunities being based, not on production every night, but what’s giving us the best chance to win baseball games.”

Medical report

Tyler O'Neill (left wrist strain) is expected to join Memphis on Wednesday to begin a rehab assignment that could extend through the end of August. O’Neill, who has been sidelined since Aug. 1, resumed taking on-field batting practice this week.

Jose Martinez (right AC joint sprain) will follow O’Neill to Memphis, though not until later this week, meaning he won't be ready to come off the injured list on Wednesday, his first date of eligibility.

Brett Cecil (left hand Carpal Tunnel syndrome) continues to face hitters in live BP sessions, but there's no indication that he’s “on his way back to our level” this season, Shildt acknowledged. Cecil has been on the IL all season.

Austin Gomber (left biceps discomfort) was expected to throw a live BP session either Tuesday or Wednesday as he tries to work his way back towards competition. Gomber’s last appearance was on May 13 for Memphis.

In the community

• A ballfield at the Pagedale (Mo.) Family Support Center will be renamed for Matt Carpenter during a Thursday morning ceremony, the Cardinals announced. It will be the 24th field to be dedicated by Cardinals Care, which made a six-figure investment to renovate the field.

• Prior to Wednesday’s game, Shildt, along with bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd and a handful of players, will visit nearby Scott Air Force Base as part of an outreach effort with the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It’s just an opportunity to be able to support and show gratitude to people who have sacrificed for the freedoms that allow us to do what we do,” Shildt said. “They paid a big, huge price for it. I’m honored to go and humbled to go.”

Jenifer Langosch is a senior content manager at MLB.com. She previously covered the Pirates (2007-11) and Cardinals (2012-19). Follow her on Twitter.