Cardinals send slugger O'Neill down

Right fielder dealing with spring injuries; eight others reassigned

Tyler O'Neill slugged a composite .499 for Tacoma and Memphis last season. (Bobby Stevens MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | March 11, 2018 6:20 PM ET

After battling not one, but two injuries at big league camp, Tyler O'Neill is going back to the Minors.

St. Louis optioned its No. 4 prospect to Triple-A Memphis, along with Austin Gomber (No. 14) and Edmundo Sosa (No. 16). The Cardinals also sent pitchers Conner Greene (No. 21) and Derian Gonzalez (No. 28) to Double-A Springfield while reassigning hurlers Dakota Hudson (No. 6), Ryan Helsley (No. 8) and Arturo Reyes and infielder Tommy Edman to Minor League camp.

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"It's really sad -- we were hoping to get more of a look at him," manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com of O'Neill. "Keeping him around here and making him constantly think that he's right on the edge [of making the team] especially with a hammy, I think that's dangerous.

"He's got to get this right and we know enough about him. If he's a guy that's going when we need help, here he comes."

O'Neill is coming off a transitional season after being traded from the Mariners for southpaw Marco Gonzales on July 21. Amid the Pacific Coast League clubhouse swap, MLB.com's No. 94 overall prospect slugged 31 homers, tying for fifth in the Minors. O'Neill kept the power show going in the playoffs, leaving the yard four times with three doubles in 11 games en route to a Triple-A National Championship appearance.

That signature pop hadn't quite shown up at big league camp as O'Neill suffered an oblique injury four games into the campaign and then pulled a hamstring when he was plunked by a pitch Friday. Limited to just seven games with St. Louis, the right fielder went 3-for-12 with a walk and no extra-base hits.

Hudson, the club's No. 3 pitching prospect, had a strong second Major League camp stint. The right-hander notched a 1.93 ERA with two punchouts and five walks over 4 2/3 innings in three appearances. Gomber went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and three strikeouts in seven innings over three games while Helsley was 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA and two punchouts in 4 2/3 innings spanning three appearances.

"It's time," Matheny told MLB.com. "A number of those look to be [starting pitchers] -- they've got to go get stretched out and get ready for the opening of their [Minor League] season. We're going to have less innings for them, less at-bats [for position players]."

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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