Four different players have appeared at shortstop for the Cardinals in the six games they have played so far this week.
Paul DeJong, the first, played the position last Sunday and then got sent to Memphis after going nothing for three that day and pretty much 0 for the season.
Utilityman Brendan Donovan, hitting well and making all the plays he needed to make and a couple of others, took the next four turns at shortstop, relieved for an inning by Kramer Robertson, who made a throwing error and then also was sent to Memphis after the game, not that he wasn’t going back anyway.
Edmundo Sosa, just up from a rehab option at Springfield, ran a long way to catch a popup Saturday when third baseman Donovan lost it in the sun with a runner at first base in the third. And, in the eighth, Sosa snatched a foul fly from behind left fielder Corey Dickerson somehow without bowling over the flyhawk. “I guess we were both smooth, right there,” said Dickerson.
Sosa also legged out an infield hit to ignite a two-run seventh inning that helped put away a 4-0 Cardinals win over the San Francisco Giants.
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The shortstop in waiting still might be Tommy Edman. But in the first couple of innings Saturday, the Gold Glove second baseman put on a clinic as to why he might be served best where he is.
With a runner at first and two out in the first, Edman, already playing on the outfield grass for Mike Yastrzemski, dived to his left for a smash, righted himself and threw out Yastrzemski to end the inning. “That,” said first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, “was a great play.”
To start the next inning, Edman flashed to his left for a leaping grab of Evan Longoria’s liner.
Noting especially the first play, catcher Yadier Molina said, “I think that’s the game, right there. Tommy’s a great player. He’s a great defender and I’m glad we have him on our team. ”
Manager Oliver Marmol said, “We get used to that, but the reality is those are two legit plays.”
Edman admitted, “I love making those kind of web gems. Fortunately, we get a lot of those with our pitching staff keeping the ball on the infield. ”
The degree of difficulty probably favored the first play.
“The second one – I just had to catch it,” Edman said. “The first one, I had to spin around, get up and throw it. But those are the kind of plays I expect to make, though. ”
He wasn’t too bad at either. After going three for his previous 27, Edman, almost going to one knee in his swing, launched his fourth homer of the season into the Cardinals’ bullpen with two out in the fifth inning, giving the offensively challenged Cardinals a 10-game streak in which they had hit at least one homer.
It was the switch-hitting Edman’s third homer left-handed, which historically has been his weaker side.
“Not a bad pitch,” said Edman of the Jakob Junis slider. “I was able to get to it.”
This year, he is still hitting .253 lefthanded, as opposed to .360 in 25 at-bats right-handed.
But Edman’s work in the cages this spring when he barely hit anything from either side (.083) has paid off in the fact he has two doubles, a triple and the three homers batting left-handed.
Marmol said he enjoyed seeing Edman pull the ball in the air and take some pitchers over the wall in the process
“He’s using the whole field,” Marmol said. “We’re seeing a complete ‘Eddie’ right now and to his credit, that’s a lot of hard work.”
Edman said he hadn’t been concerned when his average dipped lately. “I felt like I was taking good at-bats,” he said. “I thought I was hitting the ball hard, hitting the ball well. It was just one of those stretches when I wasn’t getting anything to fall and, hopefully, they’ll start to fall. ”
In the meantime, on this day of launch angles and exit velocities, Edman has a .372 on-base percentage and is on pace for 40 stolen bases. He has eight through one-fifth of the season after swiping 30, second in the league last season.
Now … could he have made those types of defensive plays while at shortstop?
“I think Tommy can play anywhere he wants to,” Molina said. “He is a great athlete. He would be a great third baseman. He would be a great shortstop. He would be a great outfielder.
“But,” said Molina, smiling, “I don’t know about catching.”
To this, Goldschmidt said, “I don’t know. Tommy would find a way. He’ll find a way to help us win, wherever he is. ”
Perhaps in a few weeks we’ll find out, but neither Edman nor his teammates seem concerned about it.
Molina smiled again. “I’m not the manager,” he said.