After delivering RBI hits off the bench in each of the first two games Allen Craig will move into the starting lineup for the next three games as the World Series shifts to Texas and American League rules.
Craig is expected to serve as the Cardinals’ designated hitter for Games 3, 4, and 5, although it’s possible manager Tony La Russa could decide to use him in the outfield at some point while shifting Matt Holliday or Lance Berkman to the DH spot.
During the regular season Craig made at least five starts in all three outfield spots in addition to 10 total infield starts at third base and second base, hitting .313 with nine homers and a .917 OPS in 47 total starts. He batted .324 with a .920 OPS in 36 appearances off the bench.
And with Craig in the starting lineup at least Alexi Ogando can begin planning ahead for their next matchup.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.