JUPITER, Fla. (KMOX) - St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak believes later this spring will be the first time we see a fully healthy Marcell Ozuna in a Cards uniform.
"I don't think he was ever at 100 percent last year," Mozeliak said. "I feel from a health standpoint he's in a much better spot. So naturally our optimism of what we are going to get from him is going to spill over to benefit really everyone."
Manager Mike Shildt agrees, Ozuna's health is not going to be an issue come regular season games in late March. However, Shildt says he will begin spring training games in just the designated hitter role, with his arm still recovering from offseason surgery.
"We're in a good spot with his timetable," Shildt says. "He's cleared to do all activities which is good, he's still limited to his throwing. He's on a nice throwing program which he's progressing nicely and we'll just ease him into the games, but he'll be ready to DH."
Catcher Yadier Molina will be in a similar role, only to be used as the DH early this spring.
Mozeliak visited Ozuna last week when he was in the Dominican Republic to attend the graduation ceremony of the Cards first Dominican Academy class. He says Ozuna was hitting balls over the fence "into a three-club wind," so he looked "105 percent" healthy from a hitting stand point.