The jammed thumb that limited outfielder Lars Nootbaar’s availability in recent days ultimately cause the Cardinals to place him on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to March 31) and recall first baseman/outfielder Juan Yepez before Monday night’s game.
Nootbaar injured his left thumb while sliding into third base Thursday, in the season opener, against the Toronto Blue Jays. He’d been unavailable in each of the following two games of that series.
Nootbaar played catch on Sunday to test how his thumb reacted. The injury is on his glove hand. Before batting practice on Monday, Nootbaar said the thumb bothered him more catching than swinging the bat.
The Cardinals made the roster move official within an hour of first pitch. Yepez, who played in 76 games for the Cardinals last season, got the call to rejoin the club. He’d been one of the final cuts at the end of spring training when the club set its roster for the start of the season.
In 76 games last season, Yepez showed power with 12 home runs and 13 doubles in 76 games. He slashed .253/.296/.447.
Alec Burleson started in left field for the third consecutive games. Sunday, Burleson went three for four with a home run and two doubles to become just the second Cardinal since World War II to have a game with three extra-base hits within his first 25 career games.
Burleson appeared in 16 games in 2022. The other player since World War II with three extra-base hits was Brian Jordan, who hit three doubles against the Chicago Cubs on April 18, 1992.
Burleson singled in his first at-bat on Monday night, his only hit in five at-bats in the Cardinals 8-4 loss to Atlanta.
Walker faces his hometown club
Georgia native and former standout at Decatur High School, Cardinals rookie phenom Jordan Walker, 20, started against his boyhood team for the first time on Monday.
The 2019 and 2020 Georgia high school player of the year, Walker grew up following and watching the Braves. He was too young to have seen Hall of Famer Hank Aaron play, but Walker heard a lot about Aaron from his grandfather growing up.
Walker’s favorite Braves player was another Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones. Walker even had a couple interactions with Jones while in high school before he got drafted by the Cardinals.
“I talked to him quite a few times because a friend of mine is close to him,” Walker said. “He just gave me some tips on how to handle things. It was a pretty cool conversation that I had with him.”
Walker skipped the Triple A level of the minor leagues, which also meant he never played against the Braves Triple A affiliate in Gwinnett, which is roughly 40 minutes away from where he played high school baseball.
As far as playing against the franchise he grew up rooting for, Walker has tried to put those feelings away for the most part.
“It’s cool, but I stopped being an uber-fan a little while ago,” Walker said. “I’ve been really focusing on being with the Cardinals and having a good time here. It’s cool, but it’s kind of just like any other team now.”
Walker had an RBI single in the fourth inning to drive in the Cardinals’ second run on Monday night and finished one for four.
The Cardinals won’t make a trip to Atlanta until early September. They play a three-game set against the Braves at Truist Park from September 5-7.
Right-handed reliever Giovanny Gallegos was available out of the bullpen for the first time this season on Monday night but was not used. Back tightness sidelined him for the first two games of the season. He threw a full bullpen session before Sunday’s game, which made him unavailable to pitch that day.
• Adam Wainwright threw a bullpen session for the first time since suffering a groin injury while working out in the weight room with Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. He was set to visit doctors again to determine next steps in his progression as he makes strides towards a likely minor-league rehab assignment.
• Shortstop Paul DeJong continues to rehab his back in Jupiter, Fla. His rehab work is now taking place with the club’s Palm Beach minor-league affiliate. DeJong has taken live at-bats, hit off of the machine and taken groundballs, though his groundball work has progressed slowly because of his limitations with side-to-side, explosive movements, according to Marmol.
• Reliever Wilking Rodriguez (shoulder) continues to progress with his throwing program and is expected to pitch off of a mound in the coming days. There’s still no timetable on when he might go on a rehab assignment.
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