Seth Blair Bounces Back For Cards





ST. LOUIS — The scar on the middle finger of Seth Blair's pitching hand is less than an inch long, which is hardly representative of the length of time it cost him.
Poised to spend the season reasserting his place in an organization suddenly crowded with starting pitchers like him, Blair was less than 20 pitches into his first bullpen session of the regular season when he felt a lightning strike of pain in his finger. When he tried to play catch the next day, just gripping the ball was "excruciating." Sent by the team for scans and exams of the finger, Blair was astonished by the reason he couldn't make a pitch.

"There was a tumor in my bone," he said.

The enchondroma tumor, a small pebble of a problem, had nestled into a place where it caused mircrofractures in the bone all around it. The act of pitching was causing the tumor to rub against the bone and break it, creating the intense pain. Blair, 23, had the tumor removed, but needed three more months to be able to pick up a ball again, pain-free. He tried a few times. But on July 23 he was able to make a throw—and less than 20 days later he was in a game.

Blair finished the season 1-3, 4.58 in seven games, five of which were at high Class A.

"I really felt like I was on top of my game coming out of spring training," Blair said. "Then 2012 became this kind of what-could-have-been season."

It's not over yet.

The 46th overall selection in 2010 and a highly regarded prospect coming out of Arizona State, he'll get to reclaim lost innings at the Arizona Fall League.

"We have good options to choose from, and it's going to very competitive for anyone to make the Double-A rotation," farm director John Vuch said. "He's got to establish himself."

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Outfielder Oscar Taveras helped Double-A Springfield to the Texas League championship for his third title in as many years at as many different levels.

• The Cardinals agreed to a four-year player-development contract with low Class A Peoria, the same affiliate they had for a decade starting in the mid-1990s. The Cardinals signed a two-year agreement with short-season State College, a former affiliate in the New York-Penn League. The Cardinals renewed with Triple-A Memphis and will extend their relationship with that club to 17 consecutive years.