ATLANTA -- A crowded Cardinals' disabled list is expected to become a little less so on Friday, when the team opens up a four-game series in New York against the Mets.
Having tested his left hamstring extensively over the past week, Allen Craig is set to come off the DL and provide manager Mike Matheny with another middle-of-the-order bat. Craig has been sidelined with a hamstring strain since May 17.
"[I] feel good," Craig said on Wednesday, after going through a variety of running tests earlier in the day. He has been participating in batting practice for several days and has gotten defensive work in both the infield and outfield.
Matheny said he won't hesitate to use Craig in either the outfield or at first base as soon as he's available.
If the Cardinals opt to keep Matt Adams on the roster, Matheny could find playing time for both Adams and Craig by using Craig in the outfield. Craig could spell Carlos Beltran in right field, and, when Beltran is healthy enough to play, Matheny could move Beltran to center.
Sandwiched between DL stints, Craig hit .373 with five doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs in 13 games.
Garcia to miss next start with elbow discomfort
ATLANTA -- Left-hander Jaime Garcia will not make his scheduled start on Friday after notifying the Cardinals' staff two days ago that he has been dealing with elbow discomfort since his last start.
That revelation prompted the Cardinals to send Garcia back to St. Louis on Tuesday so that he could undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam to survey whether he had suffered any structural damage. None was detected on Wednesday, leaving the Cardinals confident that Garcia will not have to miss more than just the one start.
"It is good news," manager Mike Matheny said. "Everything looked exactly like it looked the last time they took an MRI [last summer, shortly before Garcia signed a long-term extension]. It cleared out perfect. Testing was good, too."
Because of Thursday's off-day, the Cardinals are able to slide all four of their other starters up a day so as not to have to find someone to replace Garcia in the rotation. Adam Wainwright will now start Friday's series opener against the Mets. He'll be followed, in order, by Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse.
The Cardinals anticipate Garcia being cleared to then start the team's game on Tuesday.
Garcia last pitched on Saturday, when he allowed six hits, four earned runs and two walks in a six-inning loss to the Phillies. He did not alert anyone of any discomfort during or immediately after the outing. Having mild soreness in the days after starting is routine for pitchers. But Matheny said that Garcia expressed that this soreness "just felt different," which prompted Wednesday's examination.
Jay to get second opinion on shoulder sprain
ATLANTA -- With his sprained right shoulder not responding as expected, Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay is scheduled to get a second opinion regarding the injury in Florida on Thursday.
Jay traveled to the Cardinals' Jupiter, Fla., complex earlier this week, hopeful of first increasing his workouts and then taking the field in either extended spring training or Minor League rehab games. That timeline has been pushed back as Jay and the club await the results of Thursday's examination.
"He's still feeling a little something," manager Mike Matheny said. "But with everything that we're seeing, he should be further along. We're going to get one more look at it, and after that, we're probably going to push through."
Jay has been on the disabled list since May 16; however, the shoulder ailment has been bothering him for much longer. Jay first injured it on April 19, when he ran into the center-field wall while trying to make a catch. He missed the next six games before returning and playing through some discomfort. When that discomfort became debilitating to his swing, Jay was moved to the DL.
At the time, the expectation was that Jay would only need to miss the minimum 15 days. That's not the case, as Jay would be eligible to come off the DL on Thursday.
"It's gotten almost worse," Matheny said. "It will be nice to get another look at it and see what comes of that. That will give him a little peace of mind, too. Some guys are just hesitant to push through something."
Freese, Beltran don't start finale, but pinch-hit
ATLANTA -- Eyeing a series win over Atlanta, the Cardinals took the field on Wednesday without two of their most potent bats. Both nursing minor injuries, David Freese (right wrist soreness) and Carlos Beltran (right knee soreness) were not in the starting lineup.
Freese did not start in any of the three series games, though he did end up playing on Wednesday. Needing a pinch-hitter for Skip Schumaker -- who exited with right hamstring tightness -- in the seventh, manager Mike Matheny called on Freese. He flew out in that at-bat before staying in the game to play third base.
Freese was called out on strikes in his ninth-inning at-bat.
Freese was able to prepare for the game by taking a full session of batting practice. He had not taken swings a day earlier because of continued discomfort in his wrist.
Since missing four games with right knee soreness, Beltran had started 12 straight through Tuesday. However, that same knee "wasn't responding real well," Matheny said on Wednesday, which is what prompted the decision to sit Beltran. He, too, pinch-hit in the game, though Matheny immediately replaced him for a pinch-runner after he singled.
The timing of this setback wasn't exactly ideal, as Beltran has knocked around Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who started on Wednesday. In 74 at-bats against Hudson, Beltran has hit .351 with 17 RBIs.
A scoring decision from Tuesday's loss was changed on Wednesday and it led to Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook being charged with another earned run. Initially ruled as unearned, the run in question was scored in the fifth when Jose Constanza moved to second on a throwing error, third on a flyout and home on a wild pitch. It was later determined that even without the error, Constanza most likely would have scored in the inning.
As a result of the scoring change, Westbrook's ERA jumps from 3.69 to 3.84.
For the first time this season and 13th time in his career, catcher Yadier Molina started in the cleanup spot on Wednesday. Molina, who had a four-hit game on Tuesday, has 57 hits through the team's first 50 games. The only Cardinals catcher to record more through 50 games was Ted Simmons, who collected 58 in 1978.
The Cards' off-day on Thursday ends a string of 20 games in 20 days. Since their last day off, the Cardinals have placed five players on the disabled list. This is the longest stretch of consecutive days of games St. Louis is scheduled to play this season.
"It's taken its toll on us," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's been a tough run."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.