Cards brace for bad news on Furcal, recall Kozma

Cards brace for bad news on Furcal, recall Kozma

WASHINGTON -- Initial exams revealed that Rafael Furcal suffered damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during Thursday's game. The Cardinals have not yet announced the severity of the damage, though all indications are that Furcal will miss the rest of 2012.

Furcal traveled to St. Louis on Friday, one day after he left the field grabbing his right elbow. Furcal later described feeling a "pop" and then a tingling sensation during a series of throws he made in the game.

Furcal was scheduled to see Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta on Friday, but storms delayed Paletta's travels home from Denver. The Cardinals will wait until after Paletta reviews an MRI scan before announcing a firm diagnosis.

At that time, Furcal will also learn whether or not the injury will require Tommy John surgery. If the procedure is needed, Furcal would be looking at a recovery time of about six to eight months. Furcal, who hit .264 in 121 games this year, is signed through the 2013 season.

Furcal was officially placed on the disabled list on Friday, which allowed the club to recall Pete Kozma from Triple-A.

"He's been great. He's been a great addition to this team and we hate to see that happen for him," manager Mike Matheny said of Furcal. "But we've had many of those happen throughout the season, and it's just an opportunity for someone else to step up, not just at shortstop, but to pick up the slack with the energy and the positivity that he brings every day. Somebody else is going to have to take over that. That's really what you have to do over the course of the season."

Kozma landed in Washington a little before 11 a.m. CT on Friday and found himself in the team's starting lineup a few hours later. It will be his fourth career Major League start, with the other three coming in 2011. He had not been on the big league roster previously this year.

Kozma batted .232 with a .292 on-base percentage in 131 Triple-A games this season. He hit 11 home runs and drove home a team-high 63 runs.

"My average wasn't there, but I had my share of homers and RBIs," Kozma said. "Defensively, I felt pretty solid. I definitely focused on my bat this year. I feel like both my bat and glove got better from last year."

The Cardinals think highly of Kozma's defensive ability, which was one of the factors behind the club's decision to summon him instead of Ryan Jackson. Also playing into the choice was the lack of regular at-bats Jackson had during his recent stint with the Major League team. By remaining in Memphis through the close of the Triple-A season, Jackson will be able to string together several starts. The Cardinals will have the flexibility to add him to the roster in September.

For now, playing time at short will be split between Kozma and Daniel Descalso. Descalso has made 11 starts at short this season.

"Pete is going to get an opportunity tonight, and we'll take it from there," Matheny said. "We know about Pete's ability to play the position. He has great range. Whatever we can get offensively will be a bonus, but obviously right now he can help fill that void with the defense that Raffy was able to do for us all season."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.