Infielder Rafael Furcal injured his right elbow in August, and he tried physical rehab to avoid surgery, but that course has failed. The St. Louis Cardinals announced Thursday that Furcal has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery next week.
His recovery time will be six to eight months. That could mean Furcal, who is 35 years old, will be lost for the season. It also could mean his career, which is entering its 14th season, is over. Because of multiple injuries the past five seasons, Furcal has missed 200-some games, or so, in that span.
The Cardinals could make a trade, or they could stick with Pete Kozma, who stunned many with his play down the stretch in 2012. Kozma hit .333/.387/.569 in 82 plate appearances to help the Cards reach the playoffs, where he was a hero in the division series against the Nationals. Rafael who?
Kozma came back to Earth against the Giants in the NLCS at the plate and in the field. He's a career .236/.308/.344 hitter in 2,752 career plate appearances in the minors, which is a much more reliable indicator of what he can do with his bat. If the Cards were sure he could field his position at a high level, with their loaded lineup, they could keep him out there.
But it seems the time will come for a trade. The Cardinals have one of the deeper organizations and have a lot of prospects to deal. Maybe something can be worked out with the Texas Rangers for Elvis Andrus, with young Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings. A reunion with glove man Brendan Ryan would be nice, except for the personality conflicts. And the Mariners need him to keep opponents scoring down.
Ozzie Smith ain't walking through that door, regardless.
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