JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals got some clarity about their roster Monday, after the shortstop Paul DeJong suffered a setback when he returned from lower back pain that been keeping him off the field for most of the last week. The problem is expected to affect DeJong for at most a week before he is able to return to baseball, increasing the chance that he’ll start the season on the injured list.

“I believed I was prepared to go for ground balls today and then flared the back back upwards,” DeJong said. “So I’ll have be able to back down until am confident that I’m able to flex my spine and turn it. I thought I was hitting well but I wasn’t in the flex spine place … Now I realize I’ve pushed it just a bit too far. I’m going to have be able to back away.”

It was described as a crucial spring for DeJong. It comes from a season where his 2019. All-Star reached .157 and spent over two months in Triple-A Memphis. He spent the majority of the summer in the Cards’ Florida complex reworking his swing. He hit .154 with six walks and one homer over 19 plate appearances during Grapefruit League play.

However, the back problem resurfaced on Tuesday, and DeJong was unable to fully bending his knees to field grounders. The plan was for a return to action on Tuesday afternoon, only to experience a difficulty on Monday morning when trying to backhand a ball, and mimic the motion of throwing.

“I think at my back of my head I was feeling like I wasn’t there at all,” DeJong said. “I cannot touch my toes. I’m unable to perform normal tasks at the moment, which means it’s not playable. However, I’m grateful for the chance to be here and I’m going to try my best every day until I learn something else.”

With just 10 days left until the Cardinals start their regular season on March 30th, the team recognizes that the time is running out DeJong’s recovery and to get up in preparation for Opening Day.

If asked if that he’ll be fit to play once more in time for the Cardinals start their training camp, DeJong responded “probably probably not.”

His absence could increase the chances of several players fighting for the last bench position, opening the way to the Opening Day roster for outfielders Alec Burleson and Juan Yepez or utility player Taylor Motter. The experienced Motter who has wowed eyes by his power and versatility in the spring season, will be the sole player in the group who is capable of playing middle infield.

“It’s been a tough spring, as I wasn’t able to play in the field as soon as I wanted to and I’m not able to complete the task,” DeJong said. “But I’m just trying to go on. I’m aware that things could alter. I’m aware of the long season, but I’m just going perform what I’m supposed to do every day, and then eventually, it will be good enough for me to go playing on the field once more and show how I can perform.”

“It’s an artful line between being competitive and working on things,” Woodford said. “Believing in my pitching and knowing there are only minor changes at this moment. I’m not reinventing my pitch or trying to alter any of my tools in a radical way. The key is execution, consistency , and tuning things.”

Woodford was the club’s first-round Draft choice of 2015 Woodford was spotted as a important backup arm when 2022 came around. He pitched to an impressive 2.23 ERA across 48 1/3 innings in a plethora of roles. Woodford has impressed the club by developing an innovative slider in the spring, and has also had impressive outcomes with his performance in Grapefruit League play, pitching to an impressive 2.04 ERA with an 18/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 17 1/3 innings. He’s overpitched Hudson significantly.

With five starters named and seven relief players returning One of them is likely to be headed to Memphis for the start of the season. If the performance of Woodford is any hint, it’s not the case.

“He is getting better every day, and that was an impressive performance,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol stated. “We must make some difficult choices, but right was exactly what we were hoping to observe today.”