ST. LOUIS – Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t have much of a decision to make when it came to writing out a lineup Wednesday night.
With Allen Craig, Skip Schumaker and Rafael Furcal all out with various illinesses, the lineup pretty much wrote itself for the Cardinals third game of a four-game set with the San Francisco Giants.
“We’ve got a pretty banged up squad,” Matheny said. “I think we got nine guys left.”
Furcal received an epidural injection to ease persistent pain in his lower back and was completely unavailable Wednesday. The Cardinals hope he can play on Thursday afternoon.
Craig woke with chest pain Wednesday morning and after alerting head trainer Greg Hauck, went to have the area examined. X-rays came back negative and he was available to pinch-hit Wednesday night.
The issue apparently stemmed from a play in Cincinnati three weeks ago when he fell into the stands while trying to catch a pop fly. The issue was described by general manager John Mozeliak as a bone bruise near his upper ribs.
The power-hitting Craig, who hit two home runs Tuesday night, is expected to be back in the starting lineup Thursday as well.
Schumaker left Tuesday night’s game after being hit by a pitch on the wrist while swinging. He was still sore Wednesday but felt much better and was available off the Cardinals bench.
And there was news Wednesday on Lance Berkman, who is already on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. He recently experienced pain in the other knee (left) and how that changes his timetable is unknown.
“I know he’s got some issues in the other knee now,” Matheny said. “Just one of those uphill battles he’s got. Hopefully he can gain strength to the point where he can get back in baseball shape.
“The guy can’t catch a break.”
Said Mozeliak, “He was experiencing some things there, so we did run some studies and they came back negative. We’ll see how it goes. All a long we knew those knees were tricky.
“I think we just have to be more patient on his rehab and then we may actually give him some at-bats at some points in the minor leagues.”
Rehabbing starter Jaime Garcia will make his injury rehab start Thursday night. He is expected to throw about 80 pitches for Double-A Springfield, which is playing on the road in San Antonio.
Garcia had hoped that would be his final appearance before returning to the big league club but it appears he may have to make a fourth start before being activated.
“I think we’ll just see how things go but I could anticipate one more (after Thursday),” Mozeliak said. “Clearly when we bring him back we want him to be ready to go and be able to pitch a full game.”