Cardinals lefty Brett Cecil suffered a “fairly significant” strain of his right hamstring while covering first base in the Cardinals’ final game before the spring shutdown, manager Mike Shildt told reporters over the weekend (link via Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). There’s no concrete timeline on his rehab — as is the case with baseball in general — but he’ll require “multiple weeks of treatment to get him back to close to being into baseball activities,” per Shildt.
Shildt did note that Cecil avoided a full tear of the hamstring, although any strain, by definition, involves some partial tearing. He was able to walk off the field under his own power at the time of the injury (video link), although the 33-year-old was in obvious pain and walking with a limp.
Cecil didn’t pitch at all in 2019 after undergoing surgery to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome in his pitching hand. A year prior, shoulder troubles wiped out roughly six weeks of his season. The lefty actually pitched well upon returning from the injured list in mid-May but tanked in the second half of that season. Cecil pitched 9 2/3 innings after the 2018 All-Star break and surrendered a staggering 16 runs on 17 hits and 10 walks with just seven strikeouts.
Cecil is now 75 percent of the way through a four-year, $30.5MM contract he signed with St. Louis prior to the 2017 campaign, and to date, he’s managed only 100 innings of 4.86 ERA ball with just 7.7 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. Cecil struck out 31.6 percent of the hitters he faced over his final three seasons with the Blue Jays but has seen that number plummet to 19.6 percent. His fastball, which averaged 92.2 mph in 2016, averaged just 89.8 mph during the aforementioned 2018 season.
Suffice it to say, that’s not really what the Cards hoped when issuing the largest contract to which they’ve ever signed a reliever. Depending on the length of the shutdown with which the league is faced, it’s possible that Cecil could be healthy by the time a “second Spring Training” rolls around. Shildt’s rather vague wording and the broader uncertainty surrounding the timeline to Opening Day make that impossible to ascertain, however.