Berkman not ready just yet to come off DL
Eligible to return, veteran thinks it will be a 'couple days'
ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman will not come off the disabled list on Friday -- his first day of eligibility -- but the first baseman said after the Cardinals' 6-3 loss on Thursday that it should be "just a matter of a couple days" before he is activated.
Berkman, who is recovering from a calf strain, has still not done any strenuous running to test his left leg. His mobility work has, so far, been limited to jogging. Berkman is expected to engage in more running exercises during the team's upcoming trip to Houston.
"They're holding me back," Berkman said. "I feel like I could [run]. Today I had to do some [exercises] that, if I'm not sore tomorrow, will enable me to test it running. I think it's close."
Berkman, who has taken only seven at-bats since April 10, said a Minor League rehab assignment will not be necessary before he comes off the DL.
Hot-hitting Beltran gets scheduled day off
ST. LOUIS -- Even a seven-RBI night from right fielder Carlos Beltran couldn't sway manager Mike Matheny from his predetermined decision to sit the right fielder in St. Louis' series finale against Pittsburgh. Taking Beltran's spot in the lineup was Shane Robinson, whose previous six starts this season have come in center.
The day off is just the second of the season for Beltran, who last sat on April 11.
"I was thinking about that ahead of time," Matheny said. "It works out well."
Beltran, who talked his way into the lineup on a scheduled day off during the team's recent trip to Chicago, knew midway through Wednesday's game that he would not be starting against Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard on Thursday. That was one of the reasons why Matheny didn't sub in for Beltran, as he did for several other starters.
Beltran, 0-for-5 against Bedard in his career, came in to pinch-hit with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth inning, but struck out to end the threat.
Matheny discusses bunting strategy
ST. LOUIS -- For the third time in four games, manager Mike Matheny called for Jon Jay to move Rafael Furcal up 90 feet with a first-inning sacrifice bunt on Thursday. In two of the three instances, including the one on Thursday, Furcal led off the inning with a double. He singled in the other instance.
Perhaps a surprising call given how well Jay has swung the bat as of late, Matheny has remained consistent in making it. He defended the strategy afterward, too.
"It's not necessarily small ball. It's just good baseball," he said. "We keep preaching about situational hitting, and we were all complaining about how we weren't getting guys over. That's a great play. Then you give your third-hole hitter an opportunity to drive in a run. Getting them over one way or another. We're fine with that."
Matt Holliday did not drive Furcal in on Thursday, though David Freese did with two out. It was the second time the Cardinals have scored in an inning where Jay moved Furcal up with a sacrifice.
The Cardinals have now executed six sacrifice bunts this season -- Yadier Molina, Daniel Descalso and Furcal each have one. The runner that advanced has gone on to score three of those six times. The only three instances in which Matheny called for the sacrifice before the sixth inning were the three recent ones involving Jay.
Jay entered Thursday having hit safely in each of his last 11 games, batting .488 during that stretch. He had three three-hit games in the first five games of the homestand. The hitting streak came to an end Thursday, though, as Jay went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.
Cards offense putting up eye-popping numbers
ST. LOUIS -- With another dozen runs scored on Wednesday, the Cardinals have now scored a National League-best 135 this season. That is 10 more than the club plated through 24 games last year, when its record was 13-11. St. Louis entered Thursday 16-8 and leading the NL Central by 4 1/2 games.
For a team that has also been carried by its starting pitching, the offensive numbers are, so far, quite incredible.
The Cards are batting .290 as a team, which is 24 points higher than the next best team in the NL. They rank third in the league in homers, first in total bases and first in on-base percentage.
"When everybody in our lineup is going good, we're as good as anybody in baseball," Matt Carpenter said Wednesday night. "There's not an easy out in that lineup."
St. Louis has scored in double digits six times this year, something it did only twice through 24 games in 2011. Fifty-one runs have been scored via home runs, and the Cardinals have outhit opponents in 18 of their games. They've won 16 of those.
The club has tallied 13 hits seven times and has outscored opponents, 60-19, in the first three innings.
"[Hitting coach Mark McGwire] and [assistant hitting coach] John [Mabry] have done a real nice job just keeping it simple," manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm just real impressed with the amount of time they put into the advanced scouting, all the film work and then making sure they're available for each guy individually. It's been impressive to watch."
Designated for assignment, Komatsu in limbo
ST. LOUIS -- Unable to play and unaware of which organization he might be a member of in a few days, Erik Komatsu stopped by the Cardinals' clubhouse on Thursday to say some goodbyes and collect his belongings.
Komatsu is not officially a former Cardinal, though the club is prepared to lose him soon. The Rule 5 Draft pick was designated for assignment on Tuesday when the Cardinals needed his roster spot for Allen Craig. Komatsu expects to know on Friday where he is headed.
"I'm so used to coming to the field every day, and I'm not," said Komatsu, who has spent the last few days watching games in his nearby apartment. "It's kind of like, 'What am I going to do?' Hopefully something good will come out of this."
As a Rule 5 pick, Komatsu must be placed on waivers, where any other club can claim him. If one does, that team would be required to keep Komatsu on its 25-man roster all year, per Rule 5 rules. If no one claims Komatsu, the Cardinals must offer him back to the Nationals, who, according to a source, are interested in reacquiring the outfielder. The Nationals would have to pay the Cardinals $25,000 to take Komatsu back.
St. Louis' other option is to try and work out a trade with Washington, which would allow the Cardinals to keep Komatsu, but also send him to the Minors.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Komatsu said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity I got here. It was fun. It's a great group of guys. I just wish them the best of luck. Hopefully one way or another I'll be back here."
The Astros have set their rotation for the upcoming series, and the Cardinals are scheduled to face, in order, right-hander Lucas Harrell, right-hander Bud Norris and lefty J.A. Happ. Though the Astros sit 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, they enter Thursday with the league's second-best batting average (.266) and a 3.50 staff ERA.
Outfielder Jon Jay entered Thursday riding an 11-game hitting streak. He is batting .488 during those 11 games, which were interrupted by a shoulder injury. Jay had his third three-hit game of the homestand on Wednesday. He now has four this year.
Eduardo Sanchez recorded his sixth save of the season for Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. That total ranks him tied for third in the Pacific Coast League. However, Sanchez, who appeared in 26 games for the Cardinals last year, has given up nine earned runs and 12 hits in 10 1/3 innings this year.
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.