'I'll be ready': Edman willing to play SS again for Cards

May 12th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- Tommy Edman chuckled at the notion that there might be a transitional period if he becomes the Cardinals everyday shortstop considering his history at the position.

Edman played shortstop throughout his college career at Stanford, and he’s spent time at the position in 16 games at the MLB level. Secondly, Edman -- a Gold Glove second baseman -- already feels like something of a quasi-shortstop with all the new positioning brought to baseball by the advent of spray charts and analytics. Playing in so many shifts is why Edman routinely takes ground balls on the shortstop side of second base between innings.

“[On Tuesday night], I think I fielded three ground balls pretty much from the shortstop position,” said Edman, who had a single, two RBIs and a run scored in the Cardinals 10-1 win over the Orioles on Wednesday.

“With the righties [the Orioles] have, we have some shifts that put me on the other side of the bag. I am comfortable over there and I have been on that side of the bag a fair amount even though I haven’t been the shortstop yet.”

When the Cardinals optioned struggling shortstop Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, it opened up the franchise’s future at the position. In the short-term, the Cardinals moved utility player Brendan Donovan to shortstop, and in two games, he delivered a home run (Tuesday), two doubles, two walks and two RBIs (Wednesday).

Also, Kramer Robertson was promoted from Memphis and got his first MLB RBI on Wednesday, while Edmundo Sosa wrapped up a rehab assignment at Double-A Springfield.

Sosa, who is expected to be in St. Louis by Thursday and could start at shortstop in the series finale against the Orioles, pushed DeJong for playing time last season and into the spring. Last season, he impressed the Cardinals with his intensity, energy and athleticism. In 68 games as a starting shortstop, Sosa hit .298 and had a .378 on-base percentage.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, who has been high on Sosa since Spring Training, said the 26-year-old utility infielder will have “a real shot” to prove he can be the team’s everyday shortstop.

As for Edman, the Cardinals have been hesitant to move him off second base because of the stellar manner he has played offensively and defensively so far this season. According to FieldingBible.com, Edman came into Wednesday’s game as the MLB leader in Defensive Runs Saved (eight). Additionally, according to ESPN, Edman is tied for third in MLB in the all-important Wins Above Replacement statistic (2.1) with teammate Nolan Arenado. They trail only Manny Machado and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout.

“That’s one of our team mottos -- do something every single day to help the team win, whether that’s hitting, or if you don’t feel that good at the plate, you can still help out defensively or on the basepaths,” said Edman, who is also tied for third in baseball with seven stolen bases. “Being able to contribute in a variety of ways is important.”

At some point, it might be important for the usually sure-handed Edman to move from second base and become the Cardinals shortstop for the long-term. Even though he won his first Gold Glove at second last season, Edman said he has no reservations about moving over to play shortstop if that’s what is needed to make the Cardinals a more complete team. If Edman -- who has started taking ground balls at shortstop during pregame drills -- makes the shift to the other side of the bag, it might open a spot on the roster for power-hitting lefty Nolan Gorman, who has already hammered 12 home runs as the starting second baseman for Triple-A Memphis.

“I’ve played short my entire life,” Edman said. “It’s only been the last couple of years that I have played the majority of my time at second base. Even going back to 2019, I played a ton of short in Triple-A. Over the last couple of years, I’ve played anywhere from 10 to 20 games in the big leagues at short.

“So, it’s a position that I’ve played and it’s not brand-new to me since I’ve played it my whole life,” Edman added. “I don’t think you necessarily get beat up more at short. It’s just about making sure that you’re keeping your arm strong throughout the season. If I need to play there, I’ll be ready.”