To avoid running Harrison Bader into a more severe injury and lengthier recovery, the Cardinals rested their center fielder Sunday in the series finale at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey and will reevaluate his ailing right hamstring Monday, in Milwaukee.
Bader felt a “tightening” in his right leg during an eventful eighth inning Saturday against Cincinnati in the Mexico Series. Bader had an attempted diving catch, a throw from the warning track to third base, and another play where he sped to back up right fielder Tyler O’Neill and had to pivot quickly when the ball glanced off O’Neill’s glove. During that run, as he retrieved the ball, Bader felt pain zip through his leg.
The threat of a worse injury could slow him for a few days. “There is always that concern,” manager Mike Shildt said. “We feel we’re ahead of it. We’re getting the work in. It’s always a concern but it’s one that we’ve got a good grasp on.”
Bader said after Sunday’s game that the leg felt “way better.”
The Cardinals traveled to Mexico with additional medical support, including physicians, and they were able to put Bader through a series of exams Sunday. Shildt said the plan isn’t to have an MRI awaiting Bader when the team gets to Milwaukee for the start of a series there Monday. Bader was instead prescribed rest to see how the injury responds in the first 24 hours, and if a deeper look at the muscle is required, the Cardinals will adjust Monday.
The inning when the injury happened was an example of why the Cardinals put the brakes on Bader. In the span of five batters, Bader sprinted across the breadth of center field to attempt a diving catch. The ball glanced off his glove, and he scrambled to chase it to the warning track. From there, Bader unleashed a throw to third base that came just shy of stopping Phillip Ervin from a triple. Bader declined comment following the game.
Had he stopped Ervin at either end of that play, Bader’s catch or throw would have lived on in highlights. Instead they served Sunday as an example of Bader being in “100 percent compete-mode all the time,” Shildt said. And with so much of the center fielder’s game based around speed and his legs the Cardinals didn’t want to ask Bader to downshift due to injury.
“He’s not a self-regulator,” Shildt said. “Which is one of the reasons we appreciate him.”