As if working his way back from a torn UCL suffered last June wasn't taxing enough, it appears that St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks will have another obstacle to overcome before being cleared to return to action.
The 23-year-old closer is a Type 1 diabetic, and is thereby at a greater risk than his teammates for choosing to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the Cardinals have confirmed that they will slow-play his return once the regular season begins.
This is brutal news for St. Louis, which is fresh off an appearance in the NLCS and will need all hands on deck in the upcoming shortened campaign. Hicks was nothing short of a stud for the Cards in 2019, as he compiled a 3.14 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 14 saves across 29 appearances.
The former third-round pick was expected to take another jump in Year 3, but him potentially being limited even further makes you wonder if St. Louis would be better off just shutting him down. At the very least, Hicks should be on an innings limit if he's eventually cleared to return.
Hicks started throwing off a mound recently, so it's reasonable to think that he could be ready for Opening Day in a month's time. However, the Cardinals are undoubtedly right in choosing to monitor him as closely as any player on the roster. The seriousness of his underlying health condition and playing during COVID-19 cannot be taken lightly.