In late February and early March, there was the excitement of becoming the early leader in camp to capture the third base starting role to open the season. Troy Glaus' job was wide open and David Freese was dealing with injury problems of his own.
The karma didn't last for Mather. After knocking the cover off the ball early in Spring Training, the 27-year-old contacted a nasty case of food poisoning that cost him ten pounds and all of his momentum. Mather finished at just .227 on the spring but his 18 RBI still tied Ryan Ludwick for second on the team and fourth in the National League.
Instead of starting at third base on Opening Day in St. Louis, Mather was the final cut of the spring. His left wrist was not right, requiring an MRI and cortisone shot in May, but not surgery for removal of a cyst as some reports claimed.
The May treatment did not do the trick and before June was out, Mather underwent surgery for torn cartilage in his wrist. In 136 at-bats over 39 Memphis games, Mather had a single home run and 14 RBI. His slash stats were an anemic .176/.233/.272 for a measly .505 OPS.
Jumping ahead to today, Mather has already begun to swing the bat at his Arizona home and is preparing to head to Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Florida. This is despite reports from some sources (not us) that he was out for the season. Mather has set for himself a goal to be back by mid-August so he can demonstrate enough to earn a September call-up to St. Louis.
While the odds of that happening are unknown, it would represent a fine conclusion to what has been a trying year for Mather.
As July headed into August, I spoke with Mather about his most recent past, his hopes for the near future as well as some of the changes that have affected the Cardinals and Memphis rosters.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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