Cardinals Major League Notebook: 06/28/11

David Freese and Nick Punto are active and ready to play for the reeling St. Louis Cardinals.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The floundering Cardinals, losers in 12 of their last 15 games, will have some reinforcements on Tuesday night when they play the Orioles for the first time in Baltimore.

Third baseman David Freese and infielder Nick Punto have been activated from the 15-day disabled list and injury rehabilitation assignments.

Freese was batting .356 in 25 games with the Cardinals before being injured on May 1 when he was hit by a pitch and sustained a broken left hand. He was 3-for-13 on a four-game rehab assignment at Class AAA Memphis.

Punto, out since May 18 with a right forearm strain, was hitting .262 in 25 games with the Cardinals. He was eight for 24 in seven games at Class AA Springfield on his rehabilitation option.

What the returns of Freese and Punto give manager Tony La Russa is a deeper lineup and bench.

For instance, infielder Daniel Descalso, who has hat 193 at-bats and who has played well defensively at third base in place of Freese, can be spotted more and used in late-inning situations.

Descalso has been one of the Cardinals' best clutch hitters from the seventh inning on. La Russa said he would continue to make good use of the first-year player.

But having both the right-handed-hitting Freese and switch-hitting Punto available gets him closer to the team he expected to have.

"That's the way the club was set up," La Russa said. "So you'd like to be able to play it."

NOTES, QUOTES

C Yadier Molina, who got a couple of games off during the home stand, should be good to go for most of the Cardinals' six-game trip to Baltimore and Tampa Bay. "We just look for whatever day (off) he needs," manager Tony La Russa said.

Manager Tony La Russa returns to Camden Yards in Baltimore Tuesday night for the first time during the regular season since Aug. 29-31, 1995 when his Oakland team swept the Orioles. Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire hit his 27th home run in the finale of that series and Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley had three saves.

INF Pete Kozma and OF Andrew Brown, both of whom had been used sparingly since coming up from Class AAA Memphis, were optioned to that club where they can play regularly again.

2B Kolten Wong, before he reported to Class A Quad Cities to begin his career, took batting practice Sunday and hit two balls over the wall. The Cardinals' top draft pick, signed to a $1.3 million bonus on Saturday, said his biggest memory of the day was "probably how scared I was. I didn't know what to say. I was kind of mumbling."

Although the Cardinals never have played the Orioles at Baltimore's Camden Yards, their three starters for the series—RHPs. Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook—all have appeared there as American Leaguers. Carpenter has had the most starts (with Toronto), going 3-3 with a 5.27 earned run average.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 8-15 - The Cardinals' record in June. It is the fifth time in the last six seasons they haven't had a winning month in June.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've played hard. That's good."

- Manager Tony La Russa, looking for a bright spot in the Cardinals' recent 3-12 slide.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on June 20, and he was activated June 27.

3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on June 21, and he was activated June 27.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He is unlikely to return before mid-July.

1B Albert Pujols (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 20. Pujols was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the radius bone in his left forearm, and he will be out until late July or early August.

OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. He will be out until July.

C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23. He will be out until July.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season. He was scheduled to play catch on flat ground June 27.

NEXT GAME

 

Tue., June 28 at ORIOLES: Kyle Lohse (7-4, 2.91) vs. Zach Britton (6-5, 3.19) 6:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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