Edman ready to prove his versatility in '24 after injury

February 23rd, 2024

JUPITER, Fla. -- is one of the most versatile players on the Cardinals. He can hold his own at shortstop and second base. In fact, he won a Gold Glove as a second baseman in 2021.

Edman, 28, also can play all three outfield spots without any problems. By being versatile, he was a Gold Glove finalist as a utility player the last two years.

This year, at least to start the season, Edman is expected to be the everyday center fielder, a position he has played 44 times during his big league career. Having a set position pleases Edman.

“Hopefully, I can take advantage of it and have another great year defensively,” Edman said on Friday. “It takes some things off the table. It simplifies things in a sense. It is nice to have that knowledge going into the year.”

Cardinals assistant coach Willie McGee, a great defensive center fielder in his own right in the 1980s and ‘90s, is impressed by what he has seen from Edman in the outfield.

“He just picked it up [playing center field] as if it was [easy],” McGee said. “He has experience in right field. When he is out there, he is excellent. We don’t lose anything when he plays both positions.”

But before he can show off his defensive skills in center field, Edman must be 100 percent healthy. He is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist, a procedure that took place in October.

The Cardinals knew the recovery period would linger into Spring Training. However, there is hope he will get enough at-bats towards the end of the exhibition season to break camp with the big league club. St. Louis starts the regular season against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on March 28. Currently, Edman is able to hit off a tee and swing the bat when the ball is flipped to him.

“We are trying to see how each day goes with it,” Edman said. “Hopefully, we will continue to progress.”

Last year, Edman hit a career low .248 and missed three weeks in July with right wrist inflammation. The injury continued to bother him at the plate through the end of the season.

Edman indicated he had wrist discomfort the last few years from swinging the bat. But it got to a point where he couldn’t tolerate the pain by July and was placed on the injured list.

“The wrist had been a little bit sore before July and it was a sharp pain when I went on the IL, so that was the first time I felt I needed a break,” Edman said.

Once he is healthy enough to get on the field, Edman would like to return to the consistency that made him a .304 hitter in 2019. Once he is on base, Edman is a threat to steal bases. Last year, for example, Edman had 27 stolen bases.

“I know I’m capable of getting back to [2019],” Edman said. “My rookie year was my best hitting year so far. Having the wrist injured has allowed me to go back to the basics and focus on what I was doing well in ’19. Hopefully, I can go back to what that swing looks like – what I was doing well. That is one hidden blessing having the wrist injured.”