Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz suffered a hamstring strain while running out an infield single on Saturday, manager Mike Shildt told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other media. According to Shildt, “it’s going to be a while” before Munoz returns to action, meaning an injured list placement looms for the 25-year-old.
Originally acquired from the Athletics as part of the December 2017 trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to Oakland, Munoz has been a valuable bench piece over his two Major League seasons, getting significant playing time at six different positions — shortstop, third base, second base, and all three outfield spots. Munoz’s versatility has made him a nice part-time fill-in for injured or resting players, plus a late-game substitute on double switches.
While his minor league hitting numbers were decent but unspectacular, Munoz did some damage after being promoted to the Cardinals in 2018, batting .276/.350/.413 over his first 329 big league plate appearances. Both the production and the playing time diminished in 2019, however, as Munoz hit .267/.298/.355 over 181 PA. This dropoff put Munoz into a battle for a bench spot this spring, especially since the also-versatile Tommy Edman delivered an upgraded version (.850 OPS in 349 PA) of Munoz’s 2018 numbers in his own 2019 rookie year.
Edman can also play all over the diamond, and while St. Louis has him penciled into regular outfield duty for now, plans could change should one of the Cards’ many young outfielders — i.e. Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, or even top prospect Dylan Carlson — step up to win a job. Veteran Brad Miller was also signed to a $2MM deal and figures to factor into the backup mix, especially since Miller hits from the left side, unlike Munoz and many other of the Cards’ top bench candidates.