Ozuna's Shoulder Can't Be Excuse In 2019

"I think defensively he did create a level of a liability for us because of his inability to throw."

October 16, 2018 - 5:57 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - John Mozeliak made it clear that Marcell Ozuna's nagging shoulder injury can no longer be an excuse for the left fielder when he arrives in Jupiter, Fl next year. The St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations was asked how he views the season that Ozuna had, considering he was coming off an MVP caliber season in Miami. 

"I think it's really incumbent upon on him to spend this offseason being diligent about putting his shoulder in a position where it can be strengthened," says Cardinals president of baseball operations. "We can show you where the water is, but we can't make you drink. And I think in his case he's going to have to take that very seriously.

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"We will set him up with places to do that, whether is Miami, the Dominican Republic, Jupiter, wherever he'd like to do it. Eventually he has to show up." 

Ozuna was a Sliver Slugger and Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Marlins, but his first year in St. Louis ended with a 32-point drop in his batting average, 14 fewer home runs and no where to be found in Gold Glove discussions. His shoulder injury was very evident at times this season, especially in the outfield when his throws seemed to float in from left, instead of being driven on a frozen rope. 

He was a -2 rARM (Outfield Arm Runs Saved runs above average) last season, compared to a +2 in 2017. 

The only time St. Louis truly acknowledged his possible injury was when he was placed on the 10-day disabled list at the end of August. He saw just a five-point bump in his batting average in the last month of the season after returning from the DL. 

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"I still don't know how much (his shoulder) truly effected him because when you ask him, he says 'Not really.' But I do think when we acquired Ozuna we knew we were getting him off a career year," Mozeliak says. "But I think he's an effective player. He's a very, very good hitter. I think defensively he did create a level of a liability for us because of his inability to throw."

At the end of October, Ozuna will see Dr. Neal ElAttrache for a second opinion on his shoulder, Mozeliak says they'll know more at that time if surgery is a possibility, but says "most feel like it's a physical therapy offseason for him."  

When Mozeliak talked about the "certainties" in St. Louis lineup for 2019, Ozuna was included as the likely left fielder. But that doesn't mean there won't be pressure on him come February. He'll have young outfielders like Tyler O'Neill, Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena right on his heels. 

"If he puts himself in a position where his shoulder is not preventing him to play at full potential, the sky is the limit for him," Mozeliak says. "I'm still pretty excited about what he brings to that table, but I think I would leave my last sentence to this statement open because the next four months matter for him." 

Mozeliak held his annual end-of-the-season press conference Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium, KMOX will post stories throughout the week with video and notes from the press conference.