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As Cards look ahead, Bader an integral piece

September 30, 2018

CHICAGO -- Though the Cardinals have an offseason ahead to rebuild their roster and recast roles, center fielder Harrison Bader doesn't appear to be going anywhere. General manager Michael Girsch acknowledged on Sunday that the Cardinals plan to move forward with Bader as their full-time center fielder."The way Harrison played

CHICAGO -- Though the Cardinals have an offseason ahead to rebuild their roster and recast roles, center fielder Harrison Bader doesn't appear to be going anywhere. General manager Michael Girsch acknowledged on Sunday that the Cardinals plan to move forward with Bader as their full-time center fielder.
"The way Harrison played in center field, defensively, it's pretty obvious that he's the best defensive center fielder we have," Girsch said. "He's hit more than well enough to earn the first shot at it."
Bader took over in center after the Cardinals dealt Tommy Pham at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He ranked fourth among all Major League outfielders with 19 Defensive Runs Saved and has been at or near the top of the Statcast™ leaderboard in four- and five-star catches, as well as outs above average for more than a month. The impact has been significant, even though Bader barely surpassed 600 innings in the field.
The Cardinals' right-field plans, however, are much less settled.
Jose Martinez earned the bulk of the starts at the position down the stretch, though he's thought to be a better long-term fit as a designated hitter and may be a player the Cardinals look to deal over the offseason. William Fowler will return from a foot injury and the worst offensive campaign of his career for the third season of a five-year contract. The Cardinals also have young outfielders Tyler O'Neill and Adolis Garcia in waiting.
"We have options," Girsch said. "We have multiple guys who can be big league right fielders. We are always talking about and preparing and thinking about where guys stand and how we're going to be going forward. … We're far from making a decision on what that plan would be."
Medical report
Girsch said he had no knowledge of any planned cleanup procedures or surgeries for players currently on the active roster. That includes Marcell Ozuna, who has been nagged by right shoulder tendinitis, or Kolten Wong, whose left knee has been barking for weeks.
Wong is, however, scheduled to undergo an MRI on that knee in the coming days, and the results of that test will finalize the second baseman's next step.
Coaching staff
The Cardinals do not anticipate making widespread changes to manager Mike Shildt's coaching staff, and finalizing those 2019 assignments will be among the first items the Cardinals try to accomplish in October. Those evaluations will start with coaching staff meetings on Monday.
Among the decisions the Cardinals have to make is whether to make several interim positions permanent. Mark Budaska and George Greer joined the staff as hitting coaches when Shildt took over in July. That's also when Ron "Pop" Warner stepped in as bench coach.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.