On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals learned that former All-Star shortstop Paul DeJong had a setback in his recovery from a back injury.
As a result, he will likely begin the 2023 season on the injured list.
DeJong broke into the big leagues in 2017 and quickly claimed the Cardinals starting shortstop job.
He even earned an All-Star nod in 2019.
However, since his All-Star campaign, he has struggled at the plate.
The former slugger hit just .197 in 2021 and followed that up with a .157 mark in 2022, losing his job as the starter and ultimately being demoted to Triple-A.
Katie Woo of The Athletic provided the news of DeJong’s setback on Twitter.
Paul DeJong was slated to return to game action as early as Tuesday, but aggravated his lower back in camp earlier today. He'll need at least a week of rehab and will likely miss the start of the season. #STLCards https://t.co/aJA5QqHE5Y
— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) March 20, 2023
DeJong hasn’t quite been himself since 2019.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, he may in fact be down to his last chance.
He had reworked his swing during the offseason, but the results were less than impressive in spring training, and injuries have also played a role in his decline.
With Taylor Motter having a solid spring and stars such as Nolan Gorman, Masyn Winn, and Jordan Walker waiting in the wings, DeJong may ultimately be blocked.
The Cardinals certainly have plenty of depth in their system, but that so-called depth is now forcing the team’s hand with strong spring training performances.
In the end, this could lead to DeJong ultimately being designated for assignment or even released.
Tommy Edman has claimed the starting shortstop job, and Gorman, Winn, Motter, and Walker are all about to force the Cardinals’ hand.NEXT: Lars Nootbaar Reflects On Japan's Jaw-Dropping Win