BOSTON — The main questions the St. Louis Cardinals will face in the coming days of the World Series will revolve right fielder Carlos Beltran and his ribs.
Beltran left Wednesday night's 8-1 loss in Game 1 after the second inning with a rib contusion. He reached over Fenway Park's small fence in right field and pulled back what would have been a David Ortiz grand slam, crashing his right side into the wall.
Once he left the game, Beltran was taken to a Boston hospital for X-rays and a CT scan, all of which came back negative. He is day-to-day, according Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Now, like the opposing Dodgers and their star Hanley Ramirez in the NLCS, the Cardinals will be wondering with every game if Beltran can play. Rib injuries, as the Ramirez saga taught us, make it very difficult for hitters to swing a bat. Moving in general and doing any kind of twisting in particular becomes tougher. Ramirez started two NLCS games that he eventually had to leave. His injury came after he drilled by a pitch from Cardinals starter Joe Kelly.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak did says his club has hope Beltran's long-awaited first trip to the World Series isn't over after two innings.
“Based on how he feels and what the trainers are telling me, we’re somewhat optimistic,” Mozeliak said.
Beltran has played in the big leagues 16 years and had never made the World Series before now. He'd been close, making the postseason with the Houston Astros, the New York Mets and these Cardinals last season. His first World Series was been a big part of the postseason narrative, with teammates specifically wanting to get Beltran a ring.
Talk about putting a damper on a long-awaited postseason moment.
“I think he’s a little down right now," Mozeliak said. "Certainly disappointed. Obviously didn’t want to come out of the game.”
Beltran hit .296 /.339/.491 in the regular season, driving in 84 runs and hitting 24 homers. In the postseason, he leads the Cardinals and all of baseball with 12 RBIs. Throughout his career, Beltran has been stellar in the postseason with a .337/.449/.724 hitting line, 16 homers and 37 RBIs.
“He’s a huge player for our team," said Cardinals Game 1 starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who didn't have a wonderful night himself. "Everybody knows that. We all know that.”
Beltran's injury was just one of a number of rough moments for the Cardinals in their 8-1 loss. Now, Matheny says his team has to put things back together.
"I'm sure embarrassed to a point," Matheny said. "We get an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all season long and it didn't look anything like what we saw tonight. You're going to have games like that periodically ... So right now everybody is kind of gathering themselves and putting things together on what they need to do to get back."
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