Dexter Fowler Out Indefinitely Due to Immune System Risk

photo: Dexter Fowler via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Prior to tonight’s (Wednesday, September 2) series finale in Cincinnati, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they placed outfielder Dexter Fowler on the Injured List, optioned right-handed pitcher Ryan Meisinger to the Alternate Training Site, recalled left-handed pitcher Rob Kaminsky from the Alternate Training Site, and activated infielder Rangel Ravelo from the Injured List.

Dexter Fowler

Fowler, 34, was hitting .279/.349/.485 (19-68) with four home runs and 14 RBI this season. The switch-hitting outfielder reached base safely in 19 of his 23 games while co-leading the Cardinals in home runs and ranking 2nd in RBI.

Kaminsky, who is celebrating his 26th birthday today, has made two scoreless outings this season for St. Louis.

Ravelo, 28, rejoins St. Louis after missing the previous 22 games while on the Injured List. The right-handed hitter has appeared in one game this season on July 29 at Minnesota.

Rangel Ravelo

Meisinger, 26, pitched a scoreless inning in last night’s 16-2 win in Cincinnati.

Brian Walton’s take

The Cardinals have extended their streak of daily transactions to three and six days in the last seven.

The Kaminsky-Meisinger part is simply a matter of maximizing the number of fresh pitchers available. Meisinger replaces Kaminsky on the five-man taxi squad. The only downside is that Meisinger cannot return to the St. Louis roster inside of 10 days unless he replaces an injured player or as a 29th man for a doubleheader.

The real news is regarding Fowler.

The 34-year old is having a good season, co-leading the team with four home runs and second with 14 RBI. Fowler is fourth on the club in OPS at .832 and OPS+ at 125.

John Mozeliak via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak explained that Fowler has been suffering from a stomach ailment for several weeks, a recurrence of a problem he had in the past, prior to his St. Louis years.

The outfielder had been trying different medications but did not get hoped for relief, so as of Wednesday, he switched to a medication that will affect his immune system. Given the current COVID-19 threat, the decision was made to send Fowler home to St. Louis. As a result, he did not speak with the media.

Fowler is expected to remain out a “minimum of a couple of weeks,” per Mozeliak. The club hopes he can return this season, for which the regular season has just 26 days remaining.

The PBO said the opening in right field creates opportunity for players like Lane Thomas, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Tommy Edman, characterizing the situation as “very fluid and moving.”

As an example of the fluidity, Mozeliak said that they had been considering four different moves yesterday to address the Fowler situation and the one they took was number five. It does make one wonder what nos. 1 through 4 were and why they were discarded.

He also stated that Ravelo would return to his prior role “strengthening the bench.”

Roster implications

Because Fowler was placed on the COVID-related IL, the duration of his stay there is undefined. He is exempted from the 40-man roster, enabling the activation of Ravelo without the removal of another player among the current 40.

The Cardinals’ 40-man roster remains at 44. The club no longer has the room to activate any of the remaining COVID IL players without making 40-man roster cuts, via releases, waivers or other moves onto the the COVID IL.

Along with Fowler, the other three still to return, who are at various stages of readiness, are pitchers Carlos Martinez and Kodi Whitley and outfielder Austin Dean.

Starting pitching news

Martinez is throwing today, with the expectation he will go four innings. However, he is not expected to start this weekend in Chicago. If “all goes well his next start will be in St. Louis,” Mozeliak said. He also did not rule out Martinez this weekend, noting that is not the plan, however. St. Louis has a Tuesday twinbill against the Minnesota Twins at Busch Stadium and another next Thursday against Detroit.

Carlos Martinez

Mozeliak also said Daniel Ponce de Leon is also not penciled into the next doubleheader start, leaving the identity of Saturday’s doubleheader Game 2 starter at Wrigley Field a continuing mystery.

Regarding struggling third baseman Matt Carpenter, Mozeliak noted a difference between 2018 and today in that his exit velocity was higher previously than currently. The veteran is “going to be having to be ways thinking about change,” also mentioning launch angle and the need for hard contact. He concluded by saying that Carpenter “will continue to get opportunities and make adjustments.”

Matt Carpenter

Shildt updates

About 30 minutes after Mozeliak’s session, Mike Shildt held his daily pre-game media briefing.

Mike Shildt via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nati

The manager applauded Fowler, noting “things deteriorated over the last month.” As he continued to play through the discomfort, “his heart has been on display for his team,” Shildt said. He added that Fowler “did all he could to compete” and that the outfielder continued longer than Shildt thought he could.

Shildt said that Fowler did not have a lot of energy and function and changed his diet, but now is moving to a “more aggressive treatment.”

Regarding his outfield lineups, the manager said he has a couple of spots open with four players competing. Lane Thomas has had the least opportunity (due to his COVID time out) and performed well last year and in camps this year. “O’Neill, Bader and Dylan will get their opportunities,” Shildt added.

The manager said he is looking to see productive at-bats and those players will get more opportunities, so it is seems to this writer to be an open competition.

Dylan Carlson

On Carlson specifically, the rookie is out of the lineup Wednesday for the second consecutive game, which is a first since his promotion. With Thursday’s day off for the team, it provides Carlson an “opportunity to reset,” per Shildt, noting “a lot had been thrown at him quickly.”

The time out was described by the manager as “an opportunity to see the game and take a break from it.” Shildt called it “part of the learning curve” for the top prospect.

Ravelo was noted as a player who “takes a legitimate professional at-bat from the right side off the bench.”

One of the final three COVID players, Kodi Whitley, is in Springfield after an earlier setback. The right handed reliever is back to playing catch and has an opportunity to return this year, though there is no timetable.

Kodi Whitley

Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation

To view the two 2020 rosters and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 60-man pool, 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

Detailed team rosters for the entire system can be accessed via the red menu column at the top left (see “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES”).

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