Ozuna plays field for 1st time since shoulder surgery

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Marcell Ozuna’s surgically repaired right shoulder was given a quick test.

Ozuna played the outfield for the first time since arthroscopic shoulder surgery last Oct. 30. Trea Turner, Washington’s second batter in Monday’s game against St. Louis, lopped a ball down the left-field line, rounded first and didn’t slow down.

Ozuna made a one-hop throw to second that Turner barely beat.

“What I like about that throw was that it was strong — no pain,” Ozuna said.

He had not started throwing from the outfield to bases until Saturday’s drills.

Ozuna first felt a pop in his shoulder during a throwing session following the 2014 season. By the end of last season, Ozuna struggled to make even routine throws.

“Already that throw was more representative than a lot of the throws last year,” Cardinals‘ manager Mike Shildt said.

Ozuna, a 28-year-old two-time All-Star, began 0 for 14 at the plate before dribbling a ball through the left side of the Houston infield for a single on Saturday.

“The dugout requested the ball sort of good-naturedly,” Shildt said.

Ozuna is 1 for 20 after an 0-for-3 day Monday.

Ozuna hit .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs for the Miami Marlins in 2017, winning his first Gold Glove, then was traded by the payroll-paring Marlins.

He hit .280 with 23 home runs and 88 RBIs last year. Despite Ozuna’s slow start, Shildt is seeing improvement at the plate.

“He’s more on plane,” Shildt said. “He’s getting through the ball better. It looks better.”

Ozuna is the last of the Cardinals’ regular position players to play in a game. Pitchers Carlos Martinez and Luke Gregerson, both with shoulder issues, have yet to take the mound in an exhibition.