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Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz played a month with forearm stress fracture

Aug 16, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT

Houston Astros v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Yadier Molina returning from a sprained knee yesterday led to the Cardinals placing catcher Tony Cruz on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his right forearm. And as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports, it turns out Cruz had been playing through the stress fracture for weeks and possibly as long as a month.

According to Goold an MRI exam and CT scan Monday revealed the stress fracture in the middle of his forearm … and then Cruz still started at catcher on Tuesday and Wednesday, explaining:

There was a chance of an actual break. That was the risk I was taking. … It was bothering me quite a bit and it’s a grind. I tried to hang in there as long as I could. I’d rather be out there with the guys. Hopefully this is what it takes to get better.

Asked about allowing Cruz to continue playing with the injury, manager Mike Matheny said:

We were told he’d be OK to play as long as we were real careful and we were aware of what was going on in there. We were careful.

Obviously the Molina injury left the Cardinals short-handed behind the plate, but to risk Cruz’s health like that certainly seems questionable. And it’s not like Cruz is a superstar player they absolutely needed in the lineup at all costs. He’s a 26-year-old with little big-league experience and a sub-.700 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A.

  1. stex52 - Aug 16, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    How can you be “Real careful” with a catcher? In my opinion, a bad choice on Matheny’s part. Kudoes to Cruz for toughing it through. But they shouldn’t have expected him to.

    • bfunk1978 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      All it took was for Cruz to say it’s too much pain.

  2. blabidibla - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Exactly, how can playing catcher in the big leagues (probably the most brutal position in the game) be referred to as “being careful” with a fractured arm?

  3. pbastille - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    You woulda thought the opposition would’ve caught on when he started rolling the ball back to the pitcher…

  4. okwhitefalcon - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Mountain, meet mole hill.

  5. stlouis1baseball - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Under the circumstances…I don’t know what other choice they had.
    Using Johnson day-in-day out while #4 was on the DL wasn’t a good option.
    I am thinking his Manager (former gold glove winning Catcher himself)…
    knows a little about the rigors of the catching position and how to best protect oneself.

    • bfunk1978 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      There are other minor league catchers. Clearly Cruz was playing with it because he feared for his job. Given his minor league batting stats it’s a reasonable fear. He probably wanted to show he was tough so they’d keep him.

  6. Elichap - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    IMO ~ True, Tony Cruz may not be a superstar – yet. However, even with a hairline fracture, he has put some runs on the board for us = 5, has had 5 RBI, hit his first major league home run for us and batting average of .225 in August. Descalso and Freese are barely above him in that category at .258 and .268, respectively. He has done an excellent job behind the plate in Molina’s absence. Crazy for playing with such an injury and the risks involved – yes. Management crazy for allowing it – yes. Doing all he can to stay in the line-up – yes. Do we not do our very best in our line of work to keep our jobs? YES! This kid has dedication and heart. Baseball is very competitive within a team, as we have seen players removed and stepped down. Is he any different than any other player wanting to stay in the big leagues and be able to perform? NO. Obviously he is not a whiner and limp away. But the time has come for him to heal properly. We have no idea what discussions go on behind the scenes between manager, coaches and players. Very, very few players stay on the field these days and play through pain. Maybe Tony’s situation is why Beltran is trying to play through his. Who know’s. Right or wrong, Cruz has been there for the Cardinals … has not let them down, nor himself. Wrong???!! Could be, but I say, Cruz has the makings of a great player and is worthy of respect above “little league”. And bfunk1978 … HE IS TOUGH. Would you have been able to do it?

  7. perryt200 - Aug 17, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    i have a lot more respect for the quiet journeyman that puts his shoulder to the grind stone and gets the job done than i have for lots of other types that play this game.

    and i would bet there was a healthy dose of fear to go along with it. with the playoffs in sight; StL is famous for their farm system, Cruz is backing up a MVP contender, Wong comes up with Freese and Kosma looking at more bench time and Matheny is going to set the lineup to get the job done no matter what.

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