Cardinals Notes: O’Neill, Bader, Molina

The Cardinals activated Corey Dickerson from the 15-day injured list earlier today, but it will still be a while before the St. Louis outfield is back at full strength.  Tyler O’Neill was expected to be reinstated from his own IL stint this weekend, but the Gold Glover (sidelined since June 20 due to a hamstring strain) is now dealing with a bruised right wrist after being hit by a pitch in a minor league rehab game on Wednesday.

There’s definitely some serious inflammation in there,” O’Neill told reporters, including Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “At least there was [Thursday] but it’s gone down a good bit.  The next 48 to 72 hours are going to be key for me.”

O’Neill remained in the game after being hit, and while he will undergo more tests on his wrist, initial x-rays were negative.  Even if the wrist problem does end up being relatively minor, it still represents another setback in an injury-plagued year for O’Neill, who has played in only 45 games due to his hamstring injury and a previous shoulder problem that also required a visit to the injured list.  O’Neill has hit only .241/.292/.361 over 185 plate appearances, a big step backwards after his breakout 2021 campaign.

Harrison Bader’s return is also questionable, as manager Oliver Marmol told reporters (including’s John Denton) today that Bader likely wouldn’t return from the IL until after the All-Star break.  Bader has already missed more than the minimum 10 days due to plantar fasciitis, and while he is participating in some “light baseball drills,” the outfielder is wearing a protective walking boot when not training.

Bader “needs to be close to it where he feels like he can explode, hold his back side when he’s hitting and not feeling like he’s compromised defensively,” Marmol said.  “The heel is still grabbing at him.  Not nearly as much, but if he ramps up, he might be back at ground zero.”

Without Bader and O’Neill, Dylan Carlson is the only player remaining from the Cardinals’ first-choice starting outfield.  Dickerson’s return will help fill the void, and the emergence of rookies Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez has allowed the Cards to further make up for those lost regulars.  However, St. Louis was certainly for O’Neill to perhaps help spark a struggling lineup, as the Cardinals have been shut out four times in their past seven games (including today’s 1-0 loss to the Phillies).

Yadier Molina is another missing regular, as the catcher went on the IL due to knee soreness in mid-June.  In the latest update on Molina’s condition, Cards president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters (including the Belleville News-Democrat’s Jeff Jones) that Molina isn’t yet ready to start baseball activities, though the catcher did say he is making some progress.

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