ST. LOUIS -- Asked before Monday's 5-4 loss to the Brewers if he's felt constricted by a short bench in the early going, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was firm. Matheny has long preferred to carry eight relievers at the expense of an extra position player.Now that lack of depth is
ST. LOUIS -- Asked before Monday's 5-4 loss to the Brewers if he's felt constricted by a short bench in the early going, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was firm. Matheny has long preferred to carry eight relievers at the expense of an extra position player.
Now that lack of depth is about to be tested, with Jose Martinez's status up in the air.
Martinez left Monday's loss after a scary incident in the ninth inning, when he collided with Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain during a bang-bang play at first base. Hustling to beat out an infield hit, Cain's left foot made contact with Martinez's right ankle, prompting both players' exits.
The Cardinals announced Martinez's injury as a right Achilles contusion, and consider the outfielder day to day. But initially Martinez's injury appeared more severe. The first baseman remained on the ground for more than a minute after the fall, which he said hit him "like a shock."
He admitted to still feeling pain nearly an hour later, during a postgame interview.
"I think the way I felt was the cold weather that made it feel a little worse," Martinez said. "I couldn't move for a little bit."
Martinez said he'd try to play Tuesday, but conceded he would need to see how he felt come morning. Matheny said Martinez's injury wasn't serious enough to facilitate an immediate roster move, but Matheny's bench will be thin if Martinez misses even one day.
The Cardinals were left without any remaining bench players shortly after Yairo Munoz replaced Martinez in the ninth. Backup catcher Francisco Pena made his season debut an inning later, after Yadier Molina was lifted for a pinch-runner in the ninth. By that point, Harrison Bader and Greg Garcia had pinch-hit, leaving the St. Louis' bench otherwise bare.
Martinez has played first base and batted fifth in each of the Cardinals first 10 games, over which he's been one of the club's most potent hitters. The club's concerns, as recently as two weeks ago, centered around whether they'd be able to find enough at-bats for Martinez in an infield with Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko. Now with Gyorko on the disabled list and Martinez hitting well, the possibility of losing Martinez even temporarily qualifies as something of a roster crisis.
"It could've been bad but everything is pointing right now in a positive direction," Matheny said. "Everything structurally [in his ankle] seems to be good. He's just sore and we'll figure out more tomorrow."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.