O’Neill grateful to be back after ‘shooting pain’ in back

CHICAGO — The Cardinals misplaced one in all their most irritating video games of the season to the Cubs when outfielder Tyler O’Neill couldn’t advance any farther than third base due to a sequence of weird occasions on Friday. Nonetheless, there was a second when O’Neill took a second to go searching, marvel on the sun-splashed day at Wrigley Discipline, soak within the noise from the raucous crowd and achieve some worthwhile perspective.

Why, simply 2 1/2 months earlier, the musclebound O’Neill was having a lot again ache that he couldn’t maintain his 5-month-old daughter, Audrie, in his ripped arms. Round that very same time, O’Neill would typically awaken in the course of the night time with again ache so unhealthy that it repeatedly despatched numbing bolts down his leg.

Flash ahead to Friday, and there was O’Neill on base for a fifth time in his first two video games again since Could 4. He couldn’t assist however be jolted again to the low moments of early Could, when strolling upright was an issue. The Cardinals lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Cubshowever that ache was no comparability to what O’Neill endured two-plus months earlier.

“Just about on a regular basis life was powerful to get via, however I’m a grinder and I wished to push via it,” O’Neill stated, referring to the again ache that in the end landed him on the 60-day Injured Record on Could 5. “It acquired to the purpose the place I couldn’t even maintain my child woman — not even 11 or 12 kilos on the time — and I’m waking up in the course of the night time with capturing ache down my leg on a constant foundation.

“I attempted working via it in Could and I acquired a second opinion in June, and I’m pleased with how the method went and the way I’m feeling now. That’s what’s most vital.”

An evening after getting on base thrice within the Cardinals’ 7-2 win on ThursdayO’Neill singled and scored the group’s first run on Friday. Within the eighth with the Cardinals trailing by one, O’Neill drew a leadoff stroll, moved to second on a Jordan Walker stroll after which used his velocity to swipe third. Nonetheless, he would frustratingly stay there when Alec Burleson grounded right into a double play after being known as for 2 strikes that Statcast metrics confirmed to be off the plate.

“I used to be doing every little thing in my energy to not do what I did and [the umpire] pressured my hand just a little bit,” stated Burleson, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. “A few months in the past, I’d get overanxious and swing at these pitches, however I used to be doing every little thing in my energy to remain within the zone.”

The loss ended the Cardinals season-best profitable streak at six video games, and it interrupted a run the place that they had gained eight of the earlier 9. All 4 Cubs runs got here within the fourth off Jack Flaherty on extra-base hits — homers by rookie Miles Mastrobuoni and Cody Bellinger and an RBI double by Mike Tauchman. Flaherty got here in not solely having gained 4 straight, however he had allowed only one house run in his earlier 65 1/3 innings earlier than Friday’s deciding third.

“I imply, I’m one pitch away from being out of there,” stated Flaherty, who struck out six. “[Bellinger] put an excellent swing on it. You tip your cap to [Bellinger].”

The Cardinals are tipping their caps to O’Neill after the way in which he labored to beat the harm that threatened to mar a second straight season. The 28-year-old O’Neill hit 34 house runs and drove in 80 runs in 2021, however his ’22 season was principally spoiled by a shoulder harm and a number of hamstring strains. After working all through the offseason to raised situation his physique, O’Neill was the Opening Day starter in heart discipline.

After shifting again to left discipline — the place he gained Gold Gloves in 2020 and ’21 — and extra struggles on the plate, O’Neill was felled by again ache. He stopped and began a rehab plan thrice earlier than ultimately travelling to Southern California to see again specialist Dr. Robert Watkins, who gave him epidural and cortisone injections and prescribed relaxation. Lastly, O’Neill acquired the reduction he sought, and it allowed him to return to the Cardinals.

Coincidentally, Friday was the six-year anniversary of O’Neill being traded from the Mariners to the Cardinals, a franchise he hopes to stay with long-term though rumors proceed to swirl that he may be dealt earlier than the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

“The Cardinals have a fantastic factor going right here and I’m very aware of these guys — not simply my teammates, but additionally the employees,” stated O’Neill, who reiterated his want to stay a Cardinal. “When it comes to large league speaking, [the Cardinals] are all I do know. I find it irresistible right here and we’ll see what occurs.”

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Printed : 2023-07-21 23:54:00

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