O'Neill tests hamstring in Fall League action

October 9th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before the Cardinals took the field against the Phillies Saturday night to try to keep their season alive, Tyler O'Neill saw his first game action in three weeks in hopes of rejoining them early next week.

O'Neill played in an Arizona Fall League game with the Salt River Rafters, testing his left hamstring in a game for the first time since going on the big league injured list on Sept. 17. He got three at-bats, striking out and singling against right-hander Quinn Priester (Pirates) -- the AFL's top-rated pitching prospect -- and fanning against left-hander Grant Wolfram (Rangers).

O'Neill also handled two fly balls in left field without incident before leaving the game after six innings as planned. On his single and in the field, he didn't run at full speed and looked like he was protecting his hamstring.

O'Neill spent nearly a month on the injured list at midseason with the left hamstring injury, then reaggravated it in mid-September. The Cardinals didn't deem him healthy enough to make their Wild Card Series roster, but he could rejoin them for the Division Series against the Braves if St. Louis can win Saturday night and Sunday against Philadelphia. A two-time Gold Glover, he batted .228/.308/.392 with 14 homers and 14 steals in 96 games.

Teams can use the developmental circuit for rehab assignments, as long as the player consents. The most famous example of this is Kyle Schwarber, who blew out his knee in the second game of the 2016 regular season and appeared in an AFL contest before going 7-for-17 (.412) in the World Series for the victorious Cubs. The Cardinals had Jordan Hicks make a pair of Fall League appearances in 2021 after they were eliminated in the National League Wild Card Game.

O'Neill previously had played in the Fall League during the 2015 and 2016 seasons while in the Mariners system, hitting a combined .304/.385/.559 with six homers in 27 games for the Peoria Javelinas.