ST. LOUIS -- After playing more frequently over the last two weeks than at any point during his Major League career, Tony Cruz has now been prescribed a period of rest. The Cardinals placed their backup catcher on the disabled list on Thursday with a left forearm stress fracture, an injury Cruz estimates he's been playing through for about a month.
An MRI taken on Monday revealed the microfracture, and doctors told Cruz that playing with it would risk a bigger break. The Cardinals made a calculated decision to start Cruz anyway on Tuesday and Wednesday, but they did strip his pregame work down to a minimum. Cruz hasn't taken outdoor batting practice with his team this week.
"It was bothering me quite a bit, but that's part of the game," Cruz said. "I tried to stay in there as long as I could. I wouldn't say it got worse [by playing regularly], but it definitely wasn't getting any better."
Cruz could not pinpoint a specific incident that led to the fracture, believing instead that it was more an injury of attrition. He has been wearing a compression sleeve on his arm for weeks.
The fracture impacted Cruz most when swinging, though he added that his arm was also uncomfortable while catching. Cruz started 10 of the 14 games during Yadier Molina's absence. He went 9-for-44 with six RBIs.
"We really appreciate and respect how he just went out there and kept doing his job," manager Mike Matheny said. "You couldn't really tell by watching him, because he wasn't favoring it much at all. He did a good job of just going and playing. You don't hear a lot of complaining, regardless of lack of playing time or injury. He just goes and plays the game and does whatever he can to help us."
General manager John Mozeliak said doctors have recommended Cruz rest for seven to 10 days before reevaluating the injury. Had Cruz not taken on a much heavier workload the past two weeks, there's a good chance he could have finished the season without needing an extended period of rest.
"We probably wouldn't have put him on the DL, because the flag wouldn't have risen to a point of concern," Mozeliak said. "But now that he's playing every day, I think that had an adverse effect on him."
The timing was convenient for the Cardinals, who needed to make a pair of roster moves with the return of Molina and Shane Robinson. Had the club taken catcher Rob Johnson off the roster, he would have been exposed on waivers for another team to claim.
The Cardinals do expect to get Cruz back in September, which would again give the Cardinals three catchers on their roster.
"I'd rather be out there with the guys, but it is what it is and hopefully it does get better," Cruz said. "The only way bone heals is by resting, not doing anything."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.