Harrison Bader not removed from returning

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ST LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 27: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after hitting a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on September 27, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

St. Louis Cardinals News: Tyler O’Neill to return Friday by Robert Murray

We know that Tyler O’Neill is days away from coming off the Injured List. Could Harrison Bader be far behind?

The last we heard was that Bader was progressing well and that he could be 10-14 days away from resuming baseball-related activities. On Monday, he took the next step. He took live batting practice for the first time since suffering a forearm strain and receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in the last week of spring training, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Zachary Silver of MLB.com.

Bader has also begun throwing from 120 feet and recovering well from each session. While he is still a couple weeks from returning, his progress has reached the point where the Cardinals believe he will return at some point in early May. And his return should help stabilize what has been a tumultuous start for the Cardinals outfield, especially on defense, which has been inconsistent after entering the regular season with the expectation that it would be a strength despite its relative inexperience.

“Texted with him last night, and he’s excited and feels good,” Shildt said, via Silver. “Not going to rush to get back, (but) excited to get back.”

When Bader eventually returns, the spotlight will immediately shine on him. Not only is he expected to provide some stability to the outfield, he is expected to take the next step at the plate and become much more consistent against right-handed pitching. It ultimately could determine his long-term outlook with the organization, and makes this the most pivotal season of his young career.

But first, Bader needs to get back on the field. Each update seems to indicate that we’re getting closer to that happening, which will be massive for both him and the Cardinals outfield.

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