Flaherty clarifies his right shoulder injury

March 20th, 2022

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jack Flaherty addressed his injury situation Sunday, detailing the nature of his right shoulder discomfort and outlining his rehab plan moving forward. Flaherty confirmed he was diagnosed with bursitis after receiving a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection, linking the inflammation to mechanical issues brought upon by the left oblique strain that sidelined him for two months in 2021.

He also confirmed the presence of a pre-existing SLAP -- superior labrum anterior posterior, essentially, where the shoulder meets the biceps -- tear in his right labrum, reiterating it's unrelated to the current issue and that he's pitched through it for "a handful of years." Flaherty expressed confusion over why the tear was offered publicly for the cause of his inflammation, chalking the miscommunication up to rules prohibiting player-team contact during the lockout.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak noted the tear when announcing Flaherty's treatment Friday. The right-hander appeared to react to the news on social media, tweeting "lol" shortly after reporters tweeted Mozeliak's comments. Flaherty received the PRP injection from Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Friday, returned to the team this weekend and addressed the situation publicly Sunday. He will abstain from throwing for two weeks before beginning a throwing program and begin the season on the injured list.

"The [SLAP tear] has been around for a while, it's not something that's new -- for it to come out now is kind of interesting," Flaherty said. "That's something I've been fighting before, and I've never had any issues."

"I did everything I could through the lockout, it was just hard communication-wise to communicate to them what was going on. We talked when the lockout ended, and it was news to them, obviously, because we couldn't say anything."

Flaherty said his current discomfort emerged while ramping up in the weeks before players were summoned to Spring Training for this condensed camp. He described the sensation as different from the shoulder soreness down the stretch last season, when Flaherty was limited to 15 starts and made just four second-half starts. He finished 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA.

"It just wasn’t smooth," he said. "We got it looked at after the season was done, and in between the season ending and the lockout starting, we had it looked at and everything was fine through then. And then towards the end of it, it just didn’t feel right."

Asked how he plans to handle any potential miscommunication with the front office, Flaherty said, "It's squared away. ... We're all professionals here, you need to handle things. Not hold grudges against people, just work through it.

"If you don't? You don't want to get to that point. Then you have two sides going against each other and that's not what you want. You preach family, you preach team. Those are things that you want to continue to hold on to."

There is another element to this. The Cardinals and Flaherty's representatives must reach an agreement this week on his contract for 2022 or exchange salary requests by Tuesday, after which an in-season hearing will take place. Flaherty won his arbitration case last season, only the Cardinals' third case since 1999. He earned $3.9 million in 2021.

On the field, Flaherty's injury opens a hole in the Cardinals' rotation alongside Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson. First-year manager Oliver Marmol reiterated Sunday he considered competition for the fifth starter job "wide open," with right-handers Jake Woodford, Johan Oviedo, Drew VerHagen and top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore candidates to win that spot. St. Louis could also look to add veteran depth through free agency.