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Things aren't looking good for Rafael Furcal

It's more than a slight concern that Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal reports his throwing elbow still "hurts a lot" with only about five weeks to go before the start of the 2013 season.

I can't imagine if Furcal's elbow has been rested since September and it's not alright now that there is going to be all that much difference over the course of the next few weeks.

The Cardinals were unable to land a suitable long term replacement over the off-season. they signed former Cubs infielder Ronnie Cedeno to a one-year deal. But the team struck out in its efforts to try to sign Alex Gonzalez as a free agent and to try to make a trade for Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Now it's potentially blowing up in their face as Furcal's elbow is so bad that he can't even swing a bat lefthanded. If he can't handle a swing, how is he ever going to make the throws.

I guess, for better or worse, the Redbirds are going to have to count on young Pete Kozma to play a significant portion of games. He had some big time hits last year and made most of the plays in the field. Maybe his re-emergence will be the silver lining in an otherwise cloudy situation

But I don't see Furcal being ready to play everyday any time soon. And that's just going to be another huge chunk of the Cardinals payroll neutralized by injury. Between Furcal and injured ace Chris Carpenter, that's more than $20 million out of a $106 million payroll out of action.