ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) — With the Cardinals headed into the offseason, manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak met with the press Monday at Busch Stadium to wrap down the season and discuss future plans.
Mozeliak opened the conference with an update on injured Cardinals, announcing normal offseason plans for two key veterans.
Yadier Molina, still recovering from a torn ligament in his right thumb, suffered a severe oblique strain in the NLCS. Though the second injury kept him sidelined for the rest of the playoffs, he is not expected to need anything more than time off to recover.
“We expect him to be 100 percent by spring training,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously the most important thing for him right now is rest.”
Adam Wainwright was examined by doctors Friday and came back clean, though his elbow tendonitis had become a major talking point in October. He is expected to enter 2015 at full strength after resting over the winter.
Michael Wacha also received positive news following his MRI Friday, as the examination of his shoulder showed no significant signs of the stress reaction that sent him to the 60-day DL.
“Even the doctors were a little surprised at how well he looked,” the GM said. “So ultimately, he should have a very normal offseason and come to spring training ready to go.”
Wacha’s shoulder injury provides a unique challenge to the club, as they are writing their own roadmap for how to deal with prevention and management of the 23-year-old’s stress reaction. Beginning the offseason with a clean bill of health is a substantial victory for the young pitcher, as it means the team’s strength and conditioning plan appears to be working.
Not all of the Cardinals will escape procedures, however. Jon Jay is scheduled to have his left wrist scoped to address an injury that surfaced in late July.
“Not exactly sure if it was on a swing or if it was just something over time that became chronic for him. Right around the end of July, it became an issue in the training room in the sense that it was being addressed,” Mozeliak explained.
To manage the injury, Jay cut down on the amount of total swings he took on a day-to-day basis, something that seemed to aid his offensive production. The center fielder hit .325 in August and September, and finished as the Cardinals’ most consistent hitter in October (.483).
Though the procedure is expected to be relatively simple, Jay will need six to eight weeks of recovery before resuming normal offseason activities. Mozeliak made it clear the team expects Jay to open the season in center field, and will tender him a contract in the offseason. He is second-year arbitration-eligible and made $3,250,000 in 2014.
Jaime Garcia’s projected return is still murky. Recovering from thoracic outlet surgery performed in July, the lefty has no clear timetable on his rehabilitation. The team expects to know more in spring training and will assess his status at that time.
Garcia could potentially impact plans for the rotation, but given the nature of the surgery and the previous injuries he suffered, the team is hesitant to plan much beyond wait-and-see. The 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract and will make $9,250,000 in 2015. There are back-to-back team options for 2016 and 2017 .