Ozuna to IL with small fractures in 2 fingers

Cardinals recall O'Neill, Thomas

June 30th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- As left fielder headed to the 10-day injured list on Saturday with small fractures at the base of his right middle and ring fingers, the Cardinals called up two outfielders from Triple-A Memphis.

and returned to the big league club, and O’Neill was in the starting lineup in left field, batting fifth Saturday for the second game of a weekend series against the Padres at Petco Park.

The second roster spot opened because right-handed reliever John Brebbia was placed on the paternity list.

O’Neill, who turned 24 last week, has played in 21 games across two stints with the Cardinals this season, posting a .263/.282/.395 slash line for a .677 OPS. That’s a drop-off from his rookie season of 2018, when he slashed .254/.303/.500 for an .803 OPS in 61 big league games. But he arrives on a hot streak, 6-for-18 with two homers in his past four games. O’Neill has 12 home runs in 41 Minor League games this season.

Though O’Neill got the first chance to step in for Ozuna, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said performance will ultimately determine who plays. Shildt knows what he wants to see from O’Neill this time around.

“Just like I want to see from every hitter -- controlling the strike zone, getting a good pitch to hit, putting a good swing on it,” Shildt said. “He’s got to manage the strike zone. He’s a big and strong guy. He can hit the ball out of the big part of the ballpark in any ballpark.”

Thomas, 23, also has split time between the Cardinals and the Minors. He is 4-for-10 in nine big league games and has a .237/.339/.378 slash line in 55 games with Memphis.

Ozuna was injured Friday on a pickoff play in the third inning. When Padres left-hander Eric Lauer threw to first, Ozuna dove toward the bag, hands first, and jammed the fingers on his right hand. He left the game after that play, and further examination of the hand on Saturday revealed the fractures.

“No surgery required, at this point,” Shildt said, though there is no timetable for Ozuna’s return, either.

Ozuna will return to St. Louis on Sunday and visit a hand specialist while the team continues its road trip with a series at Seattle. After the swelling subsides, the Cardinals might have a better idea of whether Ozuna can return soon after the All-Star break.

“He’ll need every bit of the 10 days,” Shildt said. “Beyond that, we’re still determining. Part of it will be how well it heals. … We’re going to miss him, but there will be opportunities for other guys to step up.”

Ozuna leads the Cardinals with 20 homers, 62 RBIs and an .847 OPS. With Ozuna unavailable, Paul Goldschmidt batted cleanup Saturday for the first time in 2019.

Shift in the shift
Third baseman Matt Carpenter was out of the lineup for a third straight game as he gets extra cage work and a mental breather during a 4-for-31 slide. With Tommy Edman playing third base, Shildt has kept him on the left side of the infield and moved shortstop Paul DeJong to the right side when the Cardinals shift against a left-handed pull hitter.

When Carpenter plays, he moves to the right of second base during the shift and DeJong covers the left side. Edman, who played primarily at shortstop in the Minors, made Shildt look good in the series opener Friday, with a great play to his left that finished with a spin and on-target throw to deny Eric Hosmer a base hit in the first inning.

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“He made a heck of a play,” Shildt said.

Edman grew up in San Diego and had a vocal cheering section at Petco Park. He played for his father, John, at La Jolla Country Day School and is the first graduate of that school to reach the Majors.