Found May 31, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
Ed
ST. LOUIS - Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is playing like hes 25 again, spraying hits all over the field and making highlight reel defensive plays on a nightly basis. But the 34-year-olds body knows better. I dont feel young again, I feel old Furcal jokes. But Im working hard and trying to stay in shape and stay healthy and be at that same level as before. Its been an impressive bounce-back year for Furcal, who could be in line for Comeback Player of the Year honors should he continue at anywhere close to his current production. Furcal went 2-for-5 Wednesday with two runs scored in the Cardinals 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves, raising his average to .333. He has nine three-hit games and a four-hit game and has scored multiple runs in eight games. And his success is rather different from a year ago when he was hitting just .197 when the Dodgers traded him to St. Louis at the trade deadline. So whats the difference? Being healthy, Furcal said. When you play every day and youre not sitting out for a month, you can keep that rhythm. Im healthy, but last year I wasnt and it was tough being out because I didnt have my timing. Furcal spent a month on the disabled list on two different occasions last year with Los Angeles and was hitting under .200 in 37 games before the Dodgers shipped him to St. Louis on July 31. He stabilized the Cardinals need for defense up the middle and contributed at a .255 clip at the plate in 50 games. The 13-year veteran returned to St. Louis on a two-year, 14 million contract in December after Albert Pujols departed for Anaheim and freed up the Cardinals with some extra money. But he looked much older than 34 in Spring Training when he hit just .192 and looked lost at the plate. Things couldnt have turned around any greater once the games began to count as Furcal had three hits on Opening Day in Miami and hasnt slowed since. He leads all National League shortstop in hits, average, runs scored, on-base percentage and OPS. A trip to his third All-Star Game seems all but guaranteed assuming his numbers dont completely fall off the table. And considering where he was last summer and the thoughts of retirement that creeped into his head, this one would likely be the most gratifying. I always say I want to play until my body tells me to stop playing, Furcal said. Because when Ive got hurt a lot the past few years it was very disappointing to me. I work so hard to be ready to go every day and then getting hurt, it made me so mad because I wanted to keep playing every day. I love what I do and I want to play. Furcal has appeared in 49 of the Cardinals 51 games this year and has remained injury free so far. But he may be showing signs of fatigue of late, hitting just .231 (15-for-65) in his past 16 games after holding a .383 average on May 13. But when hes not hitting, hes still contributing in the field. Furcal made three impressive plays Sunday at home against the Phillies, cutting down an important run at home plate on a grounder in the hole. Watching Furcal play defense this year makes it hard for some to believe hes yet to win a Gold Glove in his career. Its something you have to do in this game when youre not hitting, Furcal said. You have to help the team somewhere. I have to play defense because hopefully I can still help us win when Im not hitting. Its only been rare occasions this season when Furcal hasnt been hitting. Hes been a key table-setter for the Cardinals offense, which ranks tops in the National League in nearly all major statistical categories. Hes even stolen eight bases, putting him on pace for the most hes had since he stole 25 bases in 2007. So if hes feeling this good, why not just get greedy and steal every time he gets on base? You have to realize that Im not a young guy, Furcal reminds. Im not 22 or 23 years old. Im 34 years old. The way hes played this year, youd have a tough time knowing.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Rosenthal, Walsh earn Minor League Honors

Courtesy: Cardinals Media Relations ST. LOUIS The St. Louis Cardinals announced their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for May by honoring right-handed pitcher Trevor Rosenthal and infielder Colin Walsh for their accomplishments on the field. Walsh, 22, the Cardinals 13th round selection out of Stanford University in the 2010 first-year player draft, batted .366 (34...

Bullpen still sorting out roles

ST. LOUIS - A conversation in Mike Mathenys office lasts more than 20 minutes. Questions about his struggling bullpen take up more than half the time. The first-year manager is quickly learning that handling a bullpen and all the decisions that come with it is one of the toughest tasks he has. And one of the most scrutinized. But despite the continued questioning about the Cardinals...

Carlos Beltran back at Citi Field with Cardinals

Carlos Beltran says sometimes he misses New York. And sometimes he doesn't. The St. Louis Cardinals slugger returned to Citi Field on Friday for the first time since he was traded by the New York Mets last summer, concluding a rocky tenure in the Big Apple that included several outstanding seasons and one momentous strikeout. He says he enjoyed his 6 1/2 seasons with the Mets...

What Response Will Carlos Beltran Get?

As the Mets prepare to start a weekend set against the St. Louis Cardinals, all eyes will be on the return of Carlos Beltran, who comes into Citi Field with a blistering 15 homers to start the season. The Mets plan to welcome Beltran with open arms, as a video package will air to honor the former Mets’ center fielder. Never in question was the reaction he’d get from the team...

Greene Day

I like the band Green Day. Deal with it. They have a song called “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” that I can picture another green, well actually Tyler Greene to be more specific, humming over the last few years. I walk a lonely road The only one that I have ever known Don’t know where it goes But it’s home to me and I walk alone I walk this empty street On the Boulevard...

Garcia to miss start with elbow discomfort

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia returned to St. Louis Tuesday to undergo an magnetic resonance imaging on his left elbow after informing the club of discomfort following his start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. General manager John Mozeliak confirmed that an MRI taken Wednesday morning came back negative but that the lefty would miss his scheduled start Friday against...

Cardinal talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: The Big Apple

St. Louis Cardinals weekly chat on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines. Late Friday afternoon, I joined Ken Miller and Jim Brinson on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines in another installment of this year’s series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals, “Cardinal Talk.” I am reporting from New York’s Citi Field as the Mets entertain the Cards for four games. Cardinals...

Who stays Nickeas or Johnson?: Beltran returns

The Mets will host the Cardinals tonight and Carlos Beltran returns for the first time as a Card. The guy who was a professional during his time with the Mets is raking with the Cards as he has more home runs then Wright and Davis Combined.!  The Mets will make some roster moves and with Josh Thole returning, the Mets will have to send Nickeas or Johnson back to Buffalo.  To...

Beltran returns to New York to face Mets

(AP) -- Carlos Beltran spent nearly seven years as one of the New York Mets' most feared hitters. He also spent ample time on the disabled list. So far, he's been healthy enough to make a major impact with the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltran looks to continue his hot hitting as he makes his return to the Big Apple on Friday night in the opener of this four-game series. New...

Showered with praise in April, Cardinal pitchers faded in May

A 13-16 record compiled in May when the Cardinals bungled several games they could/should have won has manager Mike Matheny looking for answers. Now. "When the offense (.281 average, 66 home runs) is doing what they're doing, everybody else has to do their part," Matheny said. "Whether it is the defensive side, whether it is the pitching side, you've...

OPS Fantasy Leagues: Lancelot, The Knight Of Injuries

Lance Berkman was a renaissance man. Last year he reached 30 home runs for the first time since 2007 and his .959 OPS was his highest since 2008. I credit this turnaround to him staying healthy, and, despite his age, remaining incredibly talented. His 2011 season was not a fluke because his plate discipline and batted ball statistics were generally in line with his career rates....

New York Mets (28-23) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (27-24)

It was definitely expected to be a different kind of year for the St. Louis Cardinals. But go figure, the Mets have a one-game advantage on them in the National League at this juncture of the 2012 season. At 28-23, the Mets have the fifth best record in the National League at this moment, meaning that if the season were to end today, they would wiggle their way into the playoff picture...

Cardinals-Mets Preview

Carlos Beltran spent nearly seven years as one of the New York Mets' most feared hitters. He also spent ample time on the disabled list. So far, he's been healthy enough to make a major impact with the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltran looks to continue his hot hitting as he makes his return to the Big Apple on Friday night in the opener of this four-game series. New York ...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.