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Brett Cecil says he's healthy, and ready to compete for a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen

Cecil is in the last year of that big contract that often gets Cardinals fans fired up. But he says he's healthy and ready to compete. Could he find a role in 2020?
Credit: KSDK

JUPITER, Fla. — I think every time Brett Cecil's name is mentioned by a Cardinals fan, John Mozeliak's ears start to burn.

Cecil and his 4-year, $30.5 million deal has simply not paid off due to injuries and ineffectiveness.

In three years with the Cardinals, Cecil has pitched in 113 games and has an ERA of 4.86. He hasn't pitched in a Major League game since September of 2018.

Cecil's most recent injury and subsequent surgery was a unique one. I'll let him explain it.

"Carpal tunnel and median nerve release in the forearm. I think there are three nerves that come down through the shoulder. One goes down the middle, one goes down the inside, one goes down the outside," Cecil said at spring training in Jupiter. "Mine was the middle one, the median. It was just compressed here and compressed carpal tunnel."

The lengthy missed time hasn't just been a point for Cardinals fans to lament. The last few years have been rough for Cecil as well.

Watch: Brett Cecil talks about getting back to health with Cardinals

"I've never spent an extended time on the IR. It was tough. There was days when everything was positive and looking like I was going to be back next season and then the very next day it was not looking so good. And then inevitably I was shut down in August, which I think was a good thing. It gave it time to heal, and with a nerve and especially with a surgery that's not very common in pitchers, and I'm the only one that's ever had it to my knowledge," Cecil said. "So six weeks after surgery I started throwing. I think it more depends on the person with a nerve. They're so tricky and you don't really know what to expect. With a tendon they've had so many that they can draw from and give you a good timeline and with a nerve it just depends on the person. I think six weeks for me was a little too soon. Would that have made a difference in me coming back last year or not? I don't know."

Either way, the Cardinals and Cecil are almost done having to deal with one another. Cecil's deal is up at the end of this season, and I'd be the last one betting on the lefty pitching in the organization past 2020.

However, he might get a chance to salvage his Cardinals career this season, if the team can find room.

The Cardinals currently have seven lefthanders on their 40-man roster this spring training. Cecil is very much the low man on that totem pole. Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb and new addition Kwang-Hyun Kim are all but guaranteed spots in the Cardinals' bullpen to start the year and the team loves Genesis Cabrera and his rocket of an arm.

It's going to be tough, but Cecil is excited just to be out on a mound again.

"It's going to be good teammate competition for sure. I'm looking forward to it," Cecil said. "It would be great. Get to pitch in the big leagues again and go from there."

The main thing for the 33-year-old lefty though, is that he's healthy. Something he hasn't been able to say in quite a while

"It's good. Everything's good. I think now it's just getting my reps in on the mound and getting good reps in on the mound with everything feeling good and just getting timing down and ready to go and ready to face hitters," Cecil said.

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