Matt Holliday and the Cardinals training staff knew his right quad was not 100% healed when he returned on July 17th, roughly one month after he crumpled to the turf in left at Coors Field back on June 8th. The club took a chance they could keep Holliday’s bat in the lineup while he nursed his way back from injury and the plan backfired.
Now, with the trade deadline on Friday at 3 p.m. CT, GM John Mozeliak is left scrambling trying to find a bat to fill Holliday’s spot in the lineup as this latest setback could be an even longer stay on the DL for Holliday, when they had the time to be a little more cautious.
I can’t recall many times since his return, when it looked like Holliday was letting loose with his running. He wasn’t pushing himself on routine outs. The club wanted Holliday to be cautious and Mike Matheny admitted as much with his comment following the Cardinals 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
I’m not even sure what the last part of that statement means from Matheny?
“We didn’t see anything that was leading in the direction that we thought this might re-occur if he was able to monitor what it felt like, but that didn’t work.”
How could a player monitor what it would feel like as he’s in the heat of the moment running down to first trying to beat a throw, unless it was something that he could monitor through sprints during pre-game warmup.
I’m guessing, Holliday knew he couldn’t give full exertion, but its hard to tell yourself to ease up on plays like that. Holliday, like any competitor is going to push. I also think Holliday knew it, Matheny knew it, the training staff knew it. He was not even close to 100% healthy. The one time Holliday dug deeper, pushed a little harder, BAM, the pain returned.
If this were September in the thick of a playoff race, yeah, trot Holliday out there, and take your chances with a guy who might be 70, 75 or 80% healthy. However, there was no need to rush Holliday back after the All-Star break. The Cardinals panicked. Their lead heading into the break was cut from nine to 2.5 games by the Pirates. They felt they needed Holliday’s bat in the lineup and they were wrong. The lead shot back up to seven games and now is at 4.5 and Holliday really has not been much of a contributor. He’s hitting .207 since his return with three doubles, a homer and five RBI.
With the best record in baseball and a comfortable grip on landing a playoff spot, the team could have and should have afforded Holliday more time to heal.