Cardinals RBI Leader Marcell Ozuna hits the Injured List

photo: Marcell Ozuna (Orlando Ramirez/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Saturday, June 29), that they have placed outfielder Marcell Ozuna (small fractures at the base of the 3rd & 4th fingers on right hand) on the 10-day Injured List, placed right-handed  pitcher John Brebbia on the Paternity List and recalled outfielders Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas from Memphis (AAA).

John Brebbia (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Ozuna, who is leading the Cardinals in home runs (20) and RBI (62) while batting .259, injured his hand while diving back into first base in the 3rd inning of last night’s game against the Padres.

O’Neill, who started the season with the Cardinals, was optioned to Memphis on May 3 and in 38 games for the Redbirds, has batted .261 (37-for-142) with 11 HR’s and 26 RBI.  The right-handed hitting O’Neill homered in three of his last six games for Memphis and was batting .309 (17-for-55) in 14 June games.

Tyler O’Neill (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

In 21 games (5 games started) for St. Louis this season, O’Neill has batted .263 (10-for-38), homering on April 14 against the Cincinnati Reds in Monterrey, Mexico.   The 24-year-old Canada native owns a .256 batting mark with 10 HR’s and 27 RBI in 82 career games with St. Louis.

Thomas, 23, has appeared in nine games during his two stints with the Cardinals this season, going 4-for-10 at the plate.  The right-handed hitting rookie has compiled a .235 (45-for-190) batting mark with 4 HR’s, 25 RBI & 8 SB’s in 55 games for Memphis.

Brebbia and his wife, Amanda, our expecting their first child.

O’Neill wears uniform no. 41 and Thomas no. 35.

Brian Walton’s take

Lane Thomas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Ozuna move was expected, but a terrible blow for an already-struggling offense with its other two top hitters – Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt – together having fewer runs driven in than Ozuna this season.

With Ozuna’s unavailability, it is time to see if O’Neill is ready to make the next step and potentially replace the impending free agent Ozuna in 2020. In his six games since coming off Memphis’ IL, the muscular outfielder is 6-for-18 (.333) including two homers and three RBI. An old problem persists, however, with eight strikeouts.

Thomas also just came off the injured list, but is not as hot as O’Neill. Thomas also has two home runs in the last week, but he is 6-for-25 (.240) since his activation off the IL. With Harrison Bader unable to get untracked offensively, Thomas could see some time in center field over Dexter Fowler.

The organization has not yet announced how it will replace the two outfielders at Memphis. Since Brebbia’s time away will likely only be three days, perhaps only one of the spots will be backfilled.

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