JUPITER, Fla. -- Calling it "unbelievable" and a "dream come true," Erik Komatsu received the news that he had refused to assume was coming, even as camp neared its end and he remained with the Cards. Having never played a day above Double-A, Komatsu will begin 2012 in the Majors.
Komatsu's chances of making the Opening Day roster improved when the decision was made to place Allen Craig on the disabled list. However, even before that news, the Rule 5 Draft pick positioned himself well by impressing in all facets of the game.
He has looked Major League-ready in the outfield and has handled himself well at the plate, hitting .280 with only five strikeouts. And arguably the strongest impression he made was with his legs. Komatsu has stolen a team-best six bases in seven tries this spring.
"It's a big part of my game, and I wanted to showcase that," Komatsu said. "With me being a guy who's on base a lot, my job is to get to second any way I can."
Key for Komatsu has been the absence of pain in his right foot, which gave him problems the entire 2011 season. Just a few days after being fitted for an orthotic insert in his shoe last month, Komatsu felt the lingering discomfort disappear.
He has not been bothered by any foot pain since, and that has given Komatsu the freedom to run much more often than he did in the Minors last season.
"I definitely was less aggressive on the bases last year," said Komatsu, who stole 21 bases in 124 Double-A games. "My first step was not great. I didn't really try to steal as much, just because I wasn't comfortable with that first step. A big part is the first step when you're going anywhere. Now, it's good and healthy, and I'm confident I can get off the block."
As a Rule 5 pick, Komatsu must remain on the Cardinals' 25-man roster for a full season or else be offered back to the Nationals for half of the $50,000 purchase price St. Louis paid to acquire him last December. Since 1998, the Cardinals have had only three Rule 5 picks stick through a season.