I wonder what the odds are that, if Cardinals infielder Felipe Lopez turns out to have a severe elbow problem, the team can hit the rewind button and re-acquire Julio Lugo from the Orioles.
Lugo seemed to leave on good terms when the Cardinals accommodated his request near the end of spring training to go somewhere where he could get more playing time. But if Lopez needs elbow surgery, that place could be right where he started -- in St. Louis. Lugo fit in well here last season after being picked up in trade from the Red Sox and I thought the bench was big enough for the both of them...
Why would Baltimore be willing to give Lugo back? Well, the Orioles are 3-16 for starters. It's pretty early to be giving up. But when you're 11 games back before the end of the first month of the season, you can probably count on the fact that it's pretty much over. Baltimore isn't catching the Yankees or the Rays. The Redbirds got only a player to be named later in exchange for Lugo. So why not do the old make Lugo the player to be named and basically trade him for himself? We all promise to pretend like none of this ever happened and never mention it again.
Lugo has only had 30 plate appearances for the O's and has a lousy .107 batting average. So I doubt he's having more fun in his new locale. Brought in as insurance for second baseman Brian Roberts, who has back trouble, Lugo isn't even the primary backup. Ty Wigginton has more than twice as many plate appearances as Lugo, getting the bulk of the playing time at second. Lugo can only go up from where he is. And it seems like a return to National League pitching is often just the cure for hitters who struggle in the junior circuit.
Lopez missed several games after his pitching performance and then made a short return to the lineup. But manager Tony La Russa had to scratch him Sunday when he couldn't take the field against the Giants because of lingering soreness.
Hopefully, it's just a short term problem. But it's much easier to imagine Lopez missing an extended period of time than not at this point. And, if it does turn out to be a problem that doesn't require surgery, the Cardinals might have to use Lopez much more sparingly than they originally planned...
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