The Cardinals ruled out a left foot fracture for Allen Craig last week, but he’s still a little while away from returning to the starting lineup.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that Craig was re-evaluated earlier today and will remain in a walking boot for another week. It was described as a precautionary measure more than anything else, as doctors don’t want him to push it and aggravate the injury.
“Obviously he got re-evaluated today. You may actually see him in a boot. There’s nothing for alarm. They just feel like he’s still at a volatile stage in the sense that as he’s improving they don’t want him to have a setback by being in a tennis shoe or running shoe. So for the next week or so he’ll be in this soft boot. Everything is positive. When this injury occurred we did not know when to expect him back. We still don’t know exactly. But we’re optimistic that he’ll play this year.”
Craig has thrived as the Cardinals’ primary cleanup hitter this season, batting .315/.373/.457 with 13 home runs and 97 RBI in 134 games. He is missed right now, though St. Louis is fortunate to have Matt Adams as a fill-in option at first base.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.