Ozuna, who started in left field for the first time this spring in a 3-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Nationals on Monday, reported no pain in his surgically repaired right shoulder following the game, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Ozuna didn't get too many chances out in the field, but he did show some encouraging zip on a throw to second after Trea Turner laced a ball his way in the first inning. Ozuna was happy with that play in particular, reporting no pain after uncorking the ball and going on to note his right shoulder hasn't felt as strong as it currently does in approximately three seasons. Offseason surgery addressed an impingement that was hampering Ozuna's arm strength, and the slugger is now set to play left field for next two weeks in preparation for the regular season. Additionally, with Monday's 0-for-3 day at the plate leaving him just 1-for-20 this spring, the veteran also plans to put in extra work in the batting cage in order to address his poor timing thus far this spring.
Ozuna (shoulder) is making his first spring start in the outfield Monday against the Nationals. He will start in left field and hit cleanup, which will also likely be where he slots in on Opening Day. Ozuna had been limited to designated hitter work thus far as he was returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
Ozuna took normal fielding practice and threw to bases prior to Saturday's Grapefruit League contest against the Astros, Glenn Sattell of MLB.com reports. It's another step in the right direction with Ozuna's planned Monday return to the outfield. Sattell reports Ozuna uncorked several strong throws during Saturday's session and got through them without any setbacks. The slugger has only seen time as a designated hitter thus far this spring after undergoing right shoulder surgery last October, and he's been following a throwing program since that point. According to manager Mike Shildt, Ozuna is expected to proceed with his planned spring outfield debut Monday if his shoulder is free of any discomfort Sunday.
Ozuna could play left field during Monday's spring game against the Nationals, Rob Rains of StLSportsPage.com reports. Manager Mike Shildt previously indicated Ozuna wouldn't play the outfield in games until mid-March, so a return Monday would be fairly close to that suggestion. The 28-year-old was cleared for all baseball activities in mid-February, but the Cardinals have remained cautious as he returns from surgery on his right shoulder. Assuming he returns to outfield work with no setbacks, Ozuna should have no issue being ready for Opening Day.
Interim manager Mike Shildt suggested Monday that Ozuna may not play the outfield in Grapefruit League games until around mid-March, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Shildt didn't provide a definitive date for Ozuna to log his first outfield action of the spring, but he noted the slugger was on a "similar-ish" timetable to Yadier Molina (knee), who is penciled in to make his first start at catcher March 14. The Cardinals are simply exercising precaution with Ozuna as he works to regain strength in his surgically repaired shoulder, so he should be ready to play the field on an everyday basis once Opening Day arrives. In the meantime, Ozuna has already served as a DH on two occasions during the Grapefruit League slate, putting him on track to get in a full share of at-bats prior to the regular season.