COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals entered a May 20 road game against the San Diego Padres boasting a 28-15 record and held a narrow 2.5-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central. Like any other team in Major League Baseball, the Cardinals have suffered their fair share of injuries, particularly in the starting rotation, which has made the team's incredible start to the season all the more impressive.
The team's latest injury came just prior to the tilt with the Padres as third baseman David Freese was a late scratch and pulled from the lineup with an injury to his thumb that he suffered during the team's previous weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
While it does not look like Freese will be headed to the disabled list anytime soon, now would be a good time to take a look at whom the team does have on the disabled list and what the expectation is for when each player may return to the playing field.
Chris Carpenter - 60-day DL - Nerve irritation, right shoulder
The 37-year-old, who announced that he would miss the 2013 season just prior to spring training, started throwing again at the beginning of the month with hopes of helping the Cardinals' beleaguered bullpen. Now, because of injuries to the next two gentleman on this list, Carpenter may be pegged for a spot in the rotation if he completes the comeback.
While Carpenter originally said his plan was to come back as a possible member of the bullpen, he has been conditioning himself as a starter and will start at rehab assignment in the minor soon. If Carpenter can display that he is healthy and effective, he could be back with the Cardinals sometime in mid-to-late June.
Jake Westbrook - 15-day DL - Right elbow inflammation
Westbrook, who has been on the disabled list since May 9 after having some elbow discomfort, threw 50 balls from 90 feet on Monday and plans to have a bullpen session on Tuesday, according to Jennifer Langosch of stlcardinals.com.
If Westbrook is able to make progress and take the next step forward, one would figure the Cardinals may expedite his return, by skipping a rehab assignment, considering he isn't the only starter on the disabled list.
Jaime Garcia - 15-day DL - Left shoulder strain
While Carpenter and Westbrook look to be headed back to the Cardinals' rotation, Jaime Garcia is headed in the opposite direction. The newest member of the Cardinals group of disabled players as of May 18, Garcia's shoulder strain stems from a similar injury that he suffered back in 2012 when some doctors felt it was necessary for him to have shoulder surgery at that point.
Now, after Garcia has given it a try after rehab and still has lingering issues with soreness and ineffectiveness, it would be hard not to fathom an extended absence from the lineup for Garcia and missing the entire season should almost be expected.
Jason Motte - 60-day DL - Right elbow surgery
The electric closer was placed on the disabled list on March 22 and after attempting to pitch through a partial tear of his UCL, eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in early May. Motte will not be back in 2013, and Cardinals fans should just hope that he will be available in early 2014.
Rafael Furcal - 60 day DL - Right elbow surgery
Furcal was also put on the 60-day DL on March 22 after learning that his sore elbow would never be healthy enough to play in 2013 without Tommy John surgery. Furcal will not be back in 2013, either, and without a contract for 2014, it is unclear and likely doubtful that the shortstop who coined "happy flight" will be back with the Cardinals next season.
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