ST. LOUIS -- Eight days after jamming his right shoulder during a collision with the center-field wall, Jon Jay returned to the Cardinals' starting lineup on Friday. And he left no lingering concerns with the status of that shoulder.
Jay was in the middle of much of the Cardinals' offensive fun in the team's 13-1 win over the Brewers. After flying out in his first at-bat, Jay followed with singles in his next three. His final two hits drove in a combined three runs.
"It's all right," Jay said of his shoulder afterward. "It felt good to get back out there and be productive."
St. Louis opted not to put Jay on the disabled list after X-rays and an MRI confirmed that his shoulder endured no structural damage with the hit. Jay validated that decision when he informed the Cardinals' medical staff that all felt fine when he began hitting again on Thursday.
Jay said his shoulder felt no abnormal soreness on Thursday, when he took swings off a pitching machine. He was further convinced that he could return to the field when he woke up on Friday with no additional stiffness. Jay tested his shoulder again prior to Friday's game. He took swings in the batting cages and spent time fielding balls/throwing in the outfield.
"I was going crazy," said Jay, who is now riding a seven-game hitting streak and hitting .375 this year. "I'm happy to be in the lineup. I feel like I can contribute."
With Carlos Beltran filling the cleanup spot in Lance Berkman's absence, Jay slid into the No. 2 hole on Friday. He'll likely stay there for a while, too.
"I don't see any reason to mess with it right now," manager Mike Matheny said. "Today things went very well. I think he fits well in that spot. He does a nice job pretty consistently there."
Carpenter still without timetable for his return
ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander Chris Carpenter provided another update on the status of his right shoulder injury on Friday, though the update shed no new light on when Carpenter might resume throwing. That's because, as Carpenter reiterated, no one knows.
"I feel like my arm is stronger," he said. "I'm regaining strength. I just don't know when I'm going to pitch."
Carpenter continues to work through an exercise program designed to strengthen his right shoulder, which has been compromised by a nerve irritation issue. The Cardinals' medical staff is waiting until Carpenter's strength reaches pre-injury levels before they consider letting him pick up a baseball again.
Carpenter, who turned 37 on Friday, joked that he actually "feels younger" than a pitcher who has now reached his late 30s. He then quickly added: "I just wish I could be pitching."
Linebrink moving forward with mound work
ST. LOUIS -- Scott Linebrink, who has been battling right shoulder capsulitis (inflammation) for nearly a month, resumed throwing off the mound on Thursday. It's the latest step in the right direction for the right-hander, who hasn't pitched since Spring Training.
Linebrink threw 25 pitches -- all fastballs -- in the first of what is likely to be two or three bullpen sessions. The return to the mound followed about two weeks of throwing off flat ground.
"It's moving along," Linebrink said. "I'm not ready to get anybody out today, but I threw the 25 pitches and the ball is coming out pretty good. It's hard to know when you're in the depth of rehab how far along you are. I know I'm still working toward that goal, and I'm hoping it will come real soon."
Because of the extended absence, Linebrink is expected to eventually head out on a Minor League rehab assignment after he and the club are satisfied with his bullpen work. Appearing in a few Minor League games would allow Linebrink to face hitters before rejoining the Cardinals' bullpen.
Craig shifts rehab stint to Triple-A Memphis
ST. LOUIS -- Allen Craig has moved his rehab work to Triple-A Memphis, where he served as the team's designated hitter on Thursday and Friday. The move followed Craig's three-game stint with the Cardinals' High-A affiliate.
The bump up to Triple-A was expected to coincide with Craig's return to the field, though he still hasn't played defense yet. Manager Mike Matheny said the organization is evaluating how Craig's surgically repaired right knee is responding to each day's workouts as they decide when to allow him to play in the field.
Craig went 1-for-4 with a two-out, two-run single that helped key Memphis' eighth-inning comeback on Friday. He had two hits in five Triple-A at-bats on Thursday.
The Cardinals have not set a timetable for Craig's return to St. Louis, though, barring any setbacks, he'd likely be ready to return by the end of next week. With Lance Berkman currently on the disabled list and Matt Carpenter scuffling, the Cardinals look forward to having Craig as an option to start at first during Berkman's absence.
Matheny rotates plans for second-base trio
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals entered Spring Training with three players vying for playing time at second base. That competition never really was settled, and it leaves manager Mike Matheny with the task of continuing to juggle playing time for all three.
With Skip Schumaker now healthy, he joins Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene as daily options for Matheny, who says he will continue to divvy playing time among the three. Whom he decides to go with on any given day will be determined by a variety of factors, Matheny explained.
"Just kind of put everything in there every day -- depending on the matchup, depending on how they're swinging, how they're feeling," Matheny said. "Just kind of monitor pretty closely. There's going to be a lot of information that goes into that decision every day."
Descalso and Greene had an opportunity to monopolize playing time at second while Schumaker began the year on the disabled list, but both have scuffled all month. Descalso entered Friday's series opener with a .208 batting average. Greene was hitting just under that with a mark of .206. Neither has an on-base percentage higher than .309.
Schumaker started at second on Friday against the Brewers and began his season with three hits in nine at-bats. While Matheny said he's not necessarily looking for one player to play his way into a regular starting role, the Cardinals would certainly like to see at least one of the three boost the offensive production from that spot.
"I'm not necessarily going through a tryout situation here," Matheny said. "When they get the opportunity, it's their day to do something to help us."
Catcher Yadier Molina will be presented with his 2011 Rawlings Platinum Glove Award during an on-field, pregame ceremony on Saturday. Molina, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, earned last year's Platinum Glove by being voted the National League's best fielder.
The Cardinals announced they will be having another replica World Series ring promotion at the ballpark. Fans attending the club's July 6 home game against the Marlins will receive the freebie, which was a popular giveaway during the Cardinals' first home series.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cardinals' Purina Pooches in the Park event scheduled for June 16. Approximately 200 spots are available for fans and their dogs to take part in pregame events, and then watch that afternoon's game against the Royals from a designated section of Busch Stadium. Tickets, which are available for $115, can be purchased by going online.
Lance Berkman (left calf strain) has still not resumed strenuous activity, though that is by design. Berkman is not eligible to come off the disabled list until, at earliest, next Thursday. He missed three weeks with the same injury in 2009.
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.