Finally pain free, Furcal delivering with bat and glove

Finally pain free, Furcal delivering with bat and glove

Finally pain free, Furcal delivering with bat and glove
ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright had heard Rafael Furcal say it before: If Furcal isn't getting hits, neither will the Cardinals' opponent.

"He just brings a whole dynamic out there that's tough to match," Wainwright said on Wednesday night after Furcal's defense had helped Wainwright earn his 11th win.

"We knew he was hurting a little bit, but the great thing about Raffy is even when he's not hitting well, even when he's not feeling physically great, he's still busting his tail out there to try and take away hits from that other team. I think he really digs that. As pitchers, we love that."

While Furcal battled back stiffness for much of late July and into August, the 34-year-old shortstop's defense rarely faltered. The pain limited Furcal's ability to swing and his range at short. It also caused him to miss five games while he hit .173 from July 21 to Aug. 11.

Furcal received an epidural, an anti-inflammatory injection, to alleviate the stiffness in his back on Aug. 8. Since then, Furcal's defense has continued to impress, but recently he seems to have fallen into a groove at the plate, as well.

Furcal has hit safely in three straight games entering Thursday, collecting two triples, a double and two RBIs while batting out of the eight-spot in the order. While it took time for the positive effects of the epidural to kick in, Furcal said he's been feeling stronger.

"I didn't like the shot, but you have to take it," Furcal said. "You have to take it to make you feel better so you can feel strong and try to help your team.

"Sometimes it was feeling a little weary at the start, but I kept working out with the trainer, doing my exercises, keep doing the same thing and try to get it strong."

It's been a relief for both Furcal and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny that his shortstop is finally healthy and doesn't have to fight through pain each day.

"Hopefully the treatment that's been going on will be something that will let him keep feeling the way he has right now," Matheny said. "And hopefully the confidence that he has right now at the plate will be something he can carry the rest of the way."