By Corey Noles for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) - Not everyone on the St. Louis Cardinals roster has been able to step onto the field, but that doesn't mean they haven't been involved.
The postseason is a special time for any player involved regardless of whether they're playing or taking on the self-proclaimed role of "head cheerleader" as Adam Wainwright did during the Cardinals push to the 2011 World Series.
At the time, he knew of the struggles, but also understood that he was still an important part of a team. In 2013, several players have followed that lead.
Three particular players, each of whom underwent surgery this year, still say they are grateful to be a part of this young team.
Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is a perfect example. In 2011 and for most of 2012, Furcal was more than a player-he was a vital part of the clubhouse.
Furcal knows October well, and he hates not being on the field.
When elbow problems cut his season short in 2012, the Cardinals tried to get him back through rehab, but eventually it was decided that elbow ligament replacement surgery was the only option.
"For myself, it's a tough situation because I wish I could be in there helping my team," Furcal said, still soaked in champagne from Wednesday night's celebration. "I'm just so excited with all of my teammates and grateful for how they have supported me, too."
During the Cardinals celebration after clinching an NLCS berth for the third-consecutive season, Furcal wasn't just hanging on the sidelines. He was blowing corks and having a wild time just like the rest of his team.
While his future with the Cardinals beyond 2013 is uncertain at best, he believes the Cardinals are going to be competitive for a long time to come.
"They way they are playing right now, they are just so good," Furcal said. "I'm here to support my team, and I'm glad they're having fun."
The Cardinals original bearded closer is quite the character. Jason Motte hasn't played this year, but he's still the bullpen's head honcho.
When the corks started flying in the clubhouse deep in the underbelly of Busch Stadium Wednesday night, Motte did not look like a guy who hasn't pitched in a game all season.
In fact, if you found yourself drenched, there's a high likelihood that he was the man responsible.
When asked about what has been the key to this Cardinals team's success, he's quick to credit chemistry with keeping things laid back in the clubhouse.
'These guys are fun to watch," Motte said. "It's such a good group. Everyone gets along. And to be able to have the team and the season they've had is just amazing."
Sure, he'd rather be stepping on the mound, but he's grateful just to be involved.
"For now, I get a front row seat," Motte said in between champagne attacks by Furcal and Shelby Miller.
He said he's spent this year in physical rehabilitation, but has also taken a personal interest in the careers of his younger teammates.
"I've talked to a bunch of these guys," Motte said. "A lot of these guys have pretty good stuff, so I just tell them to go out there and don't try to be something you're not. Just give it everything you have, and you'll come out a winner."
The 31-year-old right-hander who hopes to be ready for opening day 2014 said he's proud to see his team winning, even with so many key players gone for the season.
"These guys have done a heck of a job."
The story of Jaime Garcia has been one of both struggle and skill. A left-hander with filthy movement on his pitches, Garcia was shut down twice in 2012 due to persistent shoulder pain.
The shoulder issues began a long period of juggling the success of rehabilitation against the risks of surgery. Eventually, surgery won the battle after he began the season with a respectable 5-2 record and a 3.58 ERA.
While he's not pitching in games, Garcia still has a role on this team.
"Just to have the opportunity to be around these guys all year has been a blessing," Garcia said. "It's been great. Obviously, it would be better if I was pitching, but at the same time I'm just going to come out here and keep supporting these guys."
Garcia said he is extremely impressed with the quality of young pitching the organization has been able to bring up from its farm system. Working with them has been a priority for the 27-year-old pitcher from Reynosa, Mexico.
"The young guys are unbelievable," he said. "They come to me and I'm always glad to share with them the experience that I have. They're good listeners. I'm so proud of all of them."
Above all, Garcia's plan is to get healthy and make his way back to the mound. More of a competitor than some may realize, after the last two seasons Garcia feels like a man with something to prove.
He said he's ready to show everyone he's still the same pitcher that was so exciting in 2010 and 2011.