The first major injury of the Spring Training season has hit the St. Louis Cardinals as they have lost starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta. He was injured Monday on a diving backhanded attempt in the hole. Peralta rolled over his glove hand and injured his left thumb. Early indication is a torn ligament and he’ll be out two-to-three months.
That would take Peralta out well into early June and the Cardinals need immediate help at the position, or do they? The team dealt a very popular player in the clubhouse in Jon Jay at this offseason’s winter meetings. The return was Jedd Gyorko from the San Diego Padres. The infielder has a ton of power, but has regressed a bit in recent years due to his inconsistency at the plate.
Gyorko surprisingly made 28 starts at shortstop for the Padres last season towards the end of the year. The Padres shortstop position was a mess the whole year as the team entered the season with Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes as their starting shortstops. That failed miserably and the team ultimately went to Will Middlebrooks for a few games before handing the job to Gyorko.
At shortstop Gyorko only made one error in 28 starts and 220 innings. He made that one error in 96 chances and was relatively smooth on routine ground balls. As a Padres fan, I saw mostly every inning he played at the position. Jedd Gyorko really surprised me and turned a lot of heads on the Padres staff. He really was serviceable at the position.
Do not expect great range and his arm is a little lacking when it comes to balls deep into the hole. He has shown great footwork and I can recall several double plays that he turned without any issues. Again his versatility was a huge surprise. In the minor leagues Gyorko played mostly third base and second base.
Still, this sample size of Gyorko should be taken with a grain of salt. He was not tested all that much and was virtually under no pressure as the Padres were well out of the race and just going through the motions. Gyorko was highly motivated after losing his starting job to Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg. He had a lot to prove and that motivational factor carried him on the field.
The stocky infielder will probably be a decent option for the Cardinals but they surely need another option behind him. Preferably a left-handed batter with defensive skills. Peralta is an important part of the Cardinals team and will return eventually. They need an option in case Gyorko is not up to the task.
Losing Peralta is a disappointment for the team, but Gyorko could help them. Sadly for the Cardinals this injury happens a week after both Jimmy Rollins and Ian Desmond sign free agent contracts. Both would be snatched up by the Red Birds if they were free agents, but they are no longer available. In the game of baseball you need depth because injuries can happen at any time. This is surely the first major injury of the year. The greatest time of the year is upon us. Baseball is here.