Freese’s January Auto Accident Slows 3B Bid

St. Louis Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese should be in the spotlight, having been presented with the very best opportunity of his young career on a silver platter – to make his long-awaited big league debut while assuming the temporary starter’s role at the hot corner.

Now the St. Louisan is in the news all right, but it is for the wrong reason.

Instead of speeding ahead to seize Troy Glaus’ job, who is recovering from January 21 shoulder surgery, Freese is stuck in neutral while trying to rehab an injury himself. While we were previously told of his left Achilles tendon soreness, its origin was not disclosed until Wednesday.

The soon-to-be 26-year-old totaled his automobile in a one-car crash on January 10 and his left foot was twisted in the accident, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Freese informed the club through his agent two days later and has been under team medical care since.

Yet all parties chose to keep the matter quiet until Wednesday, adding another example to a growing list of situations in which the delivery timing of Cardinals medical information raises additional unnecessary questions. This most recently includes Glaus’ condition, sidestepped at the mid-January Winter Warm-Up fan festival, only for surprise surgery to be announced via press release a few days later.

After coming over to the Cardinals from San Diego in the Jim Edmonds trade in December 2007, Freese put together a 2008 season so solid with Triple-A Memphis that we named him our Memphis Player of the Year and the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year for the entire system. The right-handed hitter posted a .306/.361/.550 line with 26 home runs and 91 RBIs for the Pacific Coast League Redbirds.

Before Glaus’ injury, spring training non-roster invitee Freese seemed poised to be in the mix for a reserve job behind Glaus with the Cardinals or perhaps return to Memphis for a second Triple-A season.

While apparently able to swing a bat, Freese’s inability to play in the field to date has opened the door for Joe Mather to receive valuable starts at third base early in camp and perhaps establish a foothold to instead become the interim replacement for Glaus himself.

Freese estimates his full return will be in matter of days, but GM John Mozeliak and manager Tony La Russa more ominously label the situation as “open-ended”, according to the paper.

Most ironically, Glaus used a very similar term this past week when describing the timing of his expected return, originally quoted at four to six weeks. The 32-year-old is still unable to begin baseball-related activities. My medical expert suggests it may be longer before Glaus is back, especially before his power returns.

What should have been good news for Freese isn’t. Instead of being a player on top of the world right now, he finds himself on top of the trainer’s table.