PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -If everything went as planned, Paul DeJong would have been in the batter’s circle facing Mets famous pitcher Justin Verlander Wednesday applying his new minimal-stride method to show the Cardinals that he’s still able to become a valuable batter.

However, as is the case with most of the last three seasons of DeJong’s career the team, nothing has worked out perfectly for the former All-Star shortstop.

One day after DeJong was removed out of the lineup due to back discomfort, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol announced that the shortstop would have to be “sidelined for a couple of days” because of discomfort that stops him from being able to bend over in order to catch grounders. With less than two weeks left prior to when St. Louis opens the regular season, DeJong is still sitting on 19 plate appearances and 13 at-bats during what was deemed to be an all-or-nothing spring Training for the shortstop.

“Yeah it’s not perfect,” Marmol said after the Cards victory by 4-1 over the Mets on Wednesday. “Obviously that’s why he’s worked so hard in the offseason to work on certain issues in his swing. Our expectation was that he would have a good amount of bats in, particularly in the event of the starting pitcher TommyEdman] Edman attending the World Baseball Classic[World Baseball Classic]. But that’s not exactly how things went.”

After a 2022 campaign where he scored .157 and was relegated to Memphis’ Triple-A on the 10th of May, DeJong spent most of his offseason at the team’s Florida complex working on his technique in the plate. The team’s Florida complex was able to provide him with an improved swing and more balanced with a new confidence that he can return back to the player who hit 75 home runs between 2017 and 19 finishing second in the National League Rookie of the year voting in 2017, and was a part of the All-Star Game in ’19.

However it was the Cardinals plan to show off DeJong did not work out from the beginning as he was unable play shortstop due to an illness known as “arm fatigue.” With Edman playing for South Korea in the WBC and DeJong suffering from an injury, there’s a chance in the form of Masyn Winn, who is the number. 2 prospect in St. Louis’ system, per MLB Pipeline. Winn who was Wednesday’s starter is hitting .276 and has an .870 OPS in the spring. But the flashy rookie experienced problems dealing with Verlander in the third inning on Wednesday. getting out in his 2 plate appearances.

DeJong 29 probably would have had those at-bats and could have handled the four groundouts that shortstop received in the game’s initial four innings.

The Cardinals don’t believe DeJong’s back injury is severe, but it’s another setback. This could mean that Edman who was able to return to the camp on Wednesday, after South Korea did not advance out of WBC pool play is back at shortstop prior to when DeJong is allowed to play. Marmol told reporters that it is possible that the Cards have a strategy in place that will include weight room workouts as well as conditioning workouts to help ease Edman back into the spring Training following his 16-hour journey from Tokyo. For DeJong, it may be the next week before he makes his return.

“Pauly’s getting better however he’ll be out for a couple of days due to the lower backtends to hurt when he bends over to catch ground balls, however, rotation in the sense of the swing goes, not as much,” Marmol said. “We’ll allow him to rest for a couple of days and observe how he responds to treatment and general work in the gym and then move on to the next step.”

After an injury and illness-ridden year in 2020 DeJong hit 19 homers in 21. However, the position he was in was lost due to Edmundo Sosa. In the midst of DeJong was struggling to start this season and was unable to make it through the first two games, the Cardinals moved DeJong to Triple-A and switched Edman who was who was a Gold Glove winner at second in 2021 -and moved him to short. DeJong was able to swing the bat enough to be able to play at Triple-A to go back home to St. Louis, where DeJong hit home runs in his first two games . He hit the winning run via an unbeaten double against the Yankees in the days following.

After a second declines in the latter half of the season, DeJong decided to tear his batting stance and start over. He substituted that high knee kick was his first move in his career, with an equilibrating stance that is, he puts all of his body weight back and only lightly lifts his feet.

The new approach seemed to pay back for DeJong in the early part of March, when he hit a long home run that landed in the bat’s eye in the Nationals. However, he’s struggled to sustain the momentum he gained from that point due to numerous injuries.

“For myself, the focus is all about taking every situation in its entirety and not being too far ahead,” DeJong said. “In the past when things didn’t go as planned I was thinking way too fast. Being distracted from my actions is my biggest problem. It’s about staying with the flow from at a moment’s notice. It’s a feeling of renewal.”