Edman hopeful for start of spring after offseason wrist surgery

January 4th, 2024

This story was excerpted from John Denton's Cardinals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With dozens of Cardinals players expected back in St. Louis next week for the franchise’s annual Winter Warm-Up festivities, it's a good time to gauge the progress of injuries that could play major roles in the club’s fortunes in the season ahead.

, who is projected to be the team’s Opening Day starter in center field after being a Gold Glove Award finalist as a utility player in 2022 and ‘23, is still recovering from an arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist in October, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told MLB.com. Edman missed three weeks last July with right wrist inflammation, and the injury continued to bother him at the plate through the end of the season. The Cards are hopeful that Edman will be fully recovered by the start of Spring Training.

Edman, who became a first-time father this offseason, is arguably the Cardinals' most indispensable player because of his positional versatility and his elite defensive skills, and he will open the year in center field. However, he could shift to shortstop if rookie Masyn Winn struggles at the plate. (If that happens, it could create a runway for speedy rookie Victor Scott II to become the team’s everyday center fielder.)

, the first rookie in franchise history to win a Gold Glove in 2022, saw his promising sophomore season cut short by ligament damage in his right arm. Instead of undergoing ligament replacement, known as Tommy John surgery, Donovan opted for a ligament repair -- an internal brace procedure -- that should allow him to be back in time for the start of Spring Training.

Mozeliak said recently that Donovan has recovered nicely from the procedure and is fully on track to be ready by the Feb. 12 Spring Training report date for pitchers and catchers. Donovan, who smashed 11 home runs in 327 at-bats last season, has backed reports of his steady progress by posting various throwing and weight-lifting workout videos on social media in recent weeks.

Then there’s the curious case of lefty slugger and his balky back. Still four months shy of his 24th birthday, Gorman has seen his two MLB seasons marred by sporadic back pain. He revealed to MLB.com last season that he originally injured his back while doing deadlifts in 2020 at the club’s alternate site during the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out that season’s Minor League play.

Gorman was easily the Cardinals' most improved player last season, smashing a team-best 27 home runs and making dramatic improvements defensively as a second baseman. However, the former first-round pick was limited to just 119 games because of a lingering back injury that cropped up at several inopportune times. Even the hamstring strain that felled Gorman late in the season was believed to have stemmed from a back issue that required him to put in extra “maintenance” daily.

Just how worried should the Cardinals be about the back injury that is already troubling a potential 40-homer-hitting superstar in Gorman? Mozeliak feels that Gorman will eventually figure out ways to better manage the lingering issue.

“I think we’re cognizant of it, but I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it,” Mozeliak said. “It’s not keeping me up at night. I think he’s a player who is learning the rigors of the day-to-day life in the big leagues and what is required. But when you look at guys who have long careers in this game, they tend to find a way to go pole to pole and stay healthy.”