Edman's emergence is key to Cards' rise

September 22nd, 2019

CHICAGO -- The last time was at Wrigley Field was when he was called up from Triple-A Memphis to give the Cardinals a bench player who could play around the infield. He made his debut on June 8 and struck out as the Cardinals fell to 31-31 that night.

Things have slightly changed this time around. Since Edman's debut, the Cardinals are 57-36, including three straight wins against the Cubs at Wrigley Field entering Sunday's finale. With a win, they can clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2015.

And Edman’s emergence as the Cardinals’ versatile defender, offensive igniter and everyday player is one of the reasons for the Cardinals’ turnaround.

He began to be slotted into the lineup every day in early July, moving around the field until taking over at third base. With Kolten Wong nursing a left hamstring strain this weekend, Edman transitioned to second base smoothly. He’s also been a spark in the lineup, hitting .292 with .330 on-base percentage in 85 games.

“It’s just been a whirlwind,” Edman said. “It’s been crazy. I haven’t had time to sit back and reflect on it all. Once we get to the offseason, it’ll all settle in for me a little bit and I’ll be able to do some reflection. I’m kind of just riding it out.”

Edman said he’s learned more in these last three months than he ever thought he would, and he’s been able to make small adjustments each day to have his success continue. All those adjustments have accumulated into the player he is now.

He hit his team-leading sixth triple in Saturday’s 9-8 win and was on base three times. He’s reached base safely in 11 straight games and has a 1.052 OPS and a .681 slugging percentage in September. The Cardinals were impressed with Edman in Spring Training and throughout his development, but they’ve been even more impressed with Edman seizing the opportunity to be in the starting lineup.

“That’s what good organizations have, they have depth,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We didn’t have an opportunity for him to be an everyday guy at that moment, but we saw that he could be. He opened up a lot of eyes, and him doing well isn’t a huge surprise. He’s a good player.

“He’s a baseball guy. He plays the game, gets it done.”

Shildt praised Edman’s ability to improve each day and learn from what happened the day before. The most important thing Edman said he’s learned since his debut is not making a certain moment or at-bat bigger than it really is.

Through observation and advice he’s gotten from the veteran players on the Cardinals, Edman has been able to shake off an at-bat or play and learn from it the next day.

“Realizing there will be tons of opportunities over the course of the season, and just moving on from at-bat to at-bat,” Edman said. “Recognizing that if you have a bad at-bat early in the game, just to not let that affect you for the at-bats later in the game. New chance to help the team around.

“That’s what [Yadier Molina] has been emphasizing in ball talk, making sure you’re competing in every single at-bat and not focusing on what’s happened earlier in the game. Take it as you go -- every opportunity is a chance to help the team win.”

Wong hoping for return next weekend

For as optimistic as Wong was Saturday about when he could return to the lineup, the second baseman is also keeping his left hamstring strain in perspective, knowing where the Cardinals are right now and where they want to be next month. Wong said Sunday that he hopes to be able to play next weekend, when the Cardinals host the Cubs for the final series of the regular season, but he wants to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy first. That way, he can help the Cardinals in the postseason.

“A Grade 2 strain is not incredibly bad, but it’s not good,” Wong said. “You have to let that have time to heal. If they need me, I know I can step up, but I’m hoping to give this enough time that it doesn’t hinder me going on.”

Goldschmidt ‘not focused’ on his return to Arizona

On Monday, Paul Goldschmidt will return to Arizona, where his Major League career started and where he was a six-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glover before being traded to the Cardinals this offseason.

But the Cardinals first baseman said hasn’t thought about his return to Chase Field.

“It will be good to see the people I haven’t seen in a while, but I got to see my coaches and teammates earlier in the year when they came to St. Louis,” Goldschmidt said. “It’ll be good, but it’s not too big on my radar. Just try to play today and then go out there tomorrow, even if it’s in Arizona, try to help us win. That’s where my mind’s at.”