Shortstop Pete Kozma has yet to watch a game from the last seven weeks of the 2012 season, when he became an unexpected hero of St. Louis’ playoff push.
Soon, he will have much larger library of film to choose from.
Kozma replaces Rafael Furcal, who will miss the season after it was learned Thursday that he’ll have right elbow surgery to repair a partially torn ligament and remove bone spurs.
Furcal, who was injured Aug. 30 — opening the door for Kozma — had hoped the ligament would heal with rest but was shut down last week when the pain persisted.
“I don’t know where my mind is right now. It’s a tough situation for me,” said Furcal, 35. “Sometimes I want to cry. I feel so bad.”
The Cardinals, though, believe they are covered. Kozma hit .333 and slugged .569 after he joined the team Aug. 31. Ten of his 24 hits were for extra bases.
And Kozma showed that form during the Cardinals’ 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday before a sellout crowd of 7,481 at Roger Dean Stadium. He was 2-for-3, including his second home run on the spring.
Kozma, 24, had spent six seasons in the minors before last year’s promotion. Until last summer, he had just 17 big-league at-bats, all in 2011.
“We do have a high level of confidence he’ll be that type of player we saw last year,” General Manager John Mozeliak said.
Kozma was playing for Class AAA Memphis, which was preparing for its final road trip of the season, when Furcal was injured. Kozma said he was packing up and preparing for the off-season when he got the call.
“I was in a frantic panic just to get my stuff together,” he said.
The Cardinals knew they would be getting a good fielder but they weren’t expecting much offensively. Kozma was hitting just .232 at Memphis and is a career .236 hitter in the minors.
Kozma, though, believed he was having a better season than the numbers showed.
“I felt pretty good all year,” he said.
Kozma cooled off in the playoffs, hitting .214 in 13 games. Yet even with Furcal’s future uncertain, the Cardinals never explored acquiring a front-line shortstop, opting to add Ronny Cedeno as insurance. Cedeno, though, is best as a backup.
Furcal, meanwhile, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 ligament tear last year. Rest was recommended.
“I know there’s been a lot of second-guessing he should have had the surgery (in the fall), but nobody told us that was the right choice,” Mozeliak said. “The conservative approach made sense. Unfortunately it did not work.”
Mozeliak was in a difficult spot because he could not guarantee someone such as Arizona’s Stephen Drew a starting job with Furcal attempting to return. Drew, whose brother J.D. came up in the Cardinals’ organization, signed with the Red Sox.
“There is some level of loyalty to your player,” Mozeliak said.
Furcal was examined this week by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola. Furcal was told he could continue to rest and rehab the elbow for about three months without guarantees or get it fixed with Tommy John surgery.
Furcal, who is in the final season of a two-year, $14 million contract, opted for the latter, believing he can return in 2014.
“You see guys play to 50,” he said. “It’s not the end of my career. I want to get this done right now and get ready for next year.”
Noteworthy: The Cardinals will move Trevor Rosenthal back to the bullpen, narrowing the competition for the No. 5 starter to Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. “We do know the value he brings to our bullpen is really hard to get anywhere else,” manager Mike Matheny said. … Matt Holliday (stomach virus) was not at the park.
• Aided by two Yankees errors, the Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth for the 7-6 victory. The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the ninth off reliever Edward Mujica for a 6-4 lead.
• Joe Kelly, one of two pitchers competing for the No. 5 spot in the Cardinals rotation, walked three, hit a batter and gave up two hits and two runs (one earned) in two innings.
• Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki was 1-for-2 with a walk. He is hitting .412 (7-for-17).
• Ivan Nova made his second start of the spring for the Yankees, allowing three hits and a run in three innings.