One of the Cardinals’ most consistent presences in their lineup is set to miss some time.
Shortstop Paul DeJong was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday, before the Cardinals’ series opener against the Padres at Petco Park, with a non-displaced left rib fracture, retroactive to Thursday. MRI results from Thursday morning showed a blip in DeJong’s left side, which was a positive considering it ruled out any sort of oblique ailment that can be known to linger.
Manager Mike Shildt said he’s hopeful this stint can be the minimum 10 days and no more than 14.
“Paulie’s a guy that we’ve been able to pencil into that lineup quite a bit since he’s gotten here,” Shildt said. “Good player, takes care of himself -- and that's really the biggest thing. He's just a guy that's really smart … is really intentional and smart about what his habits look like.”
Hicks now isn’t eligible to return until early July, though it could be much later.
DeJong’s replacement for the time being is Tommy Edman, who on Friday was in the lineup for his second consecutive start at shortstop. Matt Carpenter is primed for more time at second base. Edman, drafted as a shortstop, has played primarily second and right field this season but has six positions on his big league ledger, including 14 starts at short.
“We're going to give him an opportunity to go play, and it gets Carp in there,” Shildt said. “We're not absolutely married to it … but we feel comfortable and confident with Tommy in short.”
DeJong didn’t seem to show any discomfort on Wednesday, though Shildt said that the shortstop felt something grab when he made a tag on Lorenzo Cain, who stole second base in the third inning. However, an 88.1 mph changeup by Brewers starter Freddy Peralta that plunked DeJong in the seventh inning Tuesday is the root cause of the injury.
DeJong missed part of last season because of COVID-19, but he had been on the injured list just once in his career before that, with a broken left hand in 2018. This stint will allow both a physical and mental reset; DeJong is hitting just .177 with seven homers through his first 35 games this season.
Edmundo Sosa also could see some time at short; he replaced DeJong on Wednesday.
Another shortstop option is Moroff, who has played second and third base with Memphis but has stayed ready. More than the positional cover, he provides a magma-hot bat, hitting .538 (14-for-26) with four homers, nine RBIs and a 1.762 OPS over his first seven games of the Minor League season.
“I've been pretty locked in down there,” said Moroff, who has relearned his pregame visualization and breathing routine. “Now I'm just trying to stay as relaxed as possible in the box as I can. Sometimes I can get a little tense in there gripping the bat too hard. I just said, ‘Let the pitcher throw it in there, clear mind, relax physically and just put a good swing on it.”’
So what’s the word on Hicks?
St. Louis placing Hicks -- its prized and young flamethrower -- on the 60-day IL was of little surprise, given the caution it has already exerted with his right elbow inflammation. The club is yet to publicize Hicks’ treatment plan.
Regardless, the roster move makes it so Hicks cannot return until July 3 at the earliest, though Shildt acknowledged “later in the season” is a likely reality.
“We do have an internal timeline. Clearly, it's going to be more than 60 days,” Shildt said. “But I think we're very optimistic he'll pitch again this year.”
• Daniel Ponce de Leon (right shoulder inflammation) threw a hitless inning for Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. He’s being built back up as a reliever as to return him to the big league roster more quickly. He’s slated for two innings with Memphis on Saturday.
• Andrew Miller (right foot toe blister) will throw a side session at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, after which the Cardinals will evaluate his next step.