ST. LOUIS — After another lively session of live batting practice Monday, Allen Craig said he still hasn’t been told if he will be added to the Cardinals’ roster for the World Series.
Judging by the smile on his face, he’s not worried.
Typically stoic, Craig addressed the media Monday afternoon with the smile of someone who won’t have to play spectator for another game.
“(Mike Matheny) hasn’t come and told me, ‘Hey, you’re on it’ officially, but I’m assuming that I will be,” Craig said.
Craig has been out since turning his foot while rounding first base in Cincinnati Sept. 4. Wednesday night’s World Series opener would mark seven weeks to the day since he suffered what was diagnosed as a Lisfranc (midfoot) injury to his left foot. Recovery time typically is four to six weeks, the Cardinals said early this month.
Facing lefty Jaime Garcia, who is coming back from early-season shoulder surgery, Craig said he took “eight to 10 at-bats.” Garcia threw curves and changeups as well as his fastball, inducing a few swings and misses as well as numerous foul balls.
“I’m focusing on taking good at-bats,” said Craig. “I’m fine. It feels good to get out there and compete against pitchers. I know they’re guys on our own team, but it’s fun to take some serious at-bats.”
Craig hit .315 with a team-best 97 RBIs and led the majors with a .454 batting average with runners in scoring position. He hit out of the cleanup spot most of the season but could be moved down in the order early in the Series.
While Matheny didn’t make Craig’s return official in his session with the media, the skipper said that if Craig is healthy enough to hit, he will be healthy enough to run the bases.
“If he’s going to be able to be there for us, unless it’s a run we have to have late in the game, he’s gonna have to be able to run the bases,” Matheny said. “He’s been running, he feels good. Now is he going to be 100 percent speed? I don’t know if that’s realistic. (But) you can’t run him every time we have him on base.”
Matheny might be delaying an announcement on Craig until the club decides who will be dropped from the 25-man roster.
The leading candidates appear to be backups Kolten Wong and Adron Chambers. Reliever Edward Mujica also could be removed from the World Series roster but if so, the Cardinals would seem more likely to add another pitcher. With a lefty-leaning lineup, the Cardinals could opt for a third lefthander out of the bullpen, likely Sam Freeman or Tyler Lyons.
Craig hit three homers in the 2011 World Series even though he underwent surgery after the season for a broken kneecap. That procedure had him sidelined through the first month of the 2012 season. From the time he returned in 2012 until his injury last month, Craig led the NL in RBIs (189 in 253 games).
In the days following his Lisfranc injury, the Cardinals expressed hope that Craig would be back by the end of the regular season. But during the final week of the regular season, the club said that more than likely he was finished for the season.
On Monday, as the Cardinals prepared for their flight to Boston, the frustration Craig admitted feeling a month ago clearly had dissipated. Play him wherever (likely DH in Boston). Put him wherever you want in the batting order. Just hit him somewhere.
“Wherever it fits is fine with me,” he said. “I’m just happy to be in there.” You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.