(BaseballStL) -- Rafael Furcal strolled into camp this week with a clean bill of health and a positive outlook on the 2013 season. Now the Cardinals just have to find a way to keep their valuable shortstop healthy.
Furcal got off to a great start last season but fell into a deep slump before missing the final month of the regular season and playoffs with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. Rest and rehab healed the tear and a recent MRI deemed him 100 percent coming into camp.
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And the Cardinals hope to keep it that way.
“We’ll just watch and listen to the trainers and listen to how Rafi feels and how he’s moving,” said manager Mike Matheny. “Last year he slowly worked himself to be ready by Opening Day and Opening Day was like a different guy showed up.
“He looks great and said he feels really good too, so that’s a good start.”
The 35-year-old Furcal hit .333 the first two months of the season but struggled to just a .215 average the rest of the way. He was injured on a throw during a game in Washington on August 30 and didn’t play again the rest of the season.
Keeping Furcal healthy and productive at the top of the Cardinals lineup would do wonders for both their offense and defense. And they plan to ease him into drills this spring in hopes of making sure he is ready to go on Opening Day.
“He feels like he’s pretty much on program,” Matheny said. “You have to realize what we had last year. We went pretty slow with him and he came out of the box carrying us really, so we understand that we’ll put him on a program and we’ll be good, as long as everything is pointing in a healthy direction.”