ST. LOUIS -- Not only does Scott Linebrink's injured right shoulder feel better, he can tell it's performing better as well. Linebrink, who's been on the disabled list since March 30 with capsulitis in the shoulder, said on Monday that he's been playing catch from a distance of 90 feet and is looking to increase that length soon.

"It's definitely progressing, and I'm feeling loads better than what I felt earlier," Linebrink, who had been shut down several weeks ago because of inflammation in the shoulder, said. "I'm letting it go as much as I possibly can. The ball's got good life, and I'm pain-free."

The next step for the right-hander is to throw from about 120 feet. From there he will attempt to pitch on flat ground, and he hopes to be throwing off a mound by the end of the current seven-game homestand.

Most important, Linebrink has been able to return to his normal throwing motion. When he first sustained the injury, during Spring Training, he was "pulling across" his body and thus wasn't able to find the strike zone. But he now feels ready to let loose.

"I feel totally different," he said. "I don't feel like I'm protecting it like I was, like it's drawn up toward my body. I feel like I'm really able to get out, get extended."

Matheny gives slumping Freese a breather

ST. LOUIS -- Both David Freese and Cards manager Mike Matheny had the same idea on Monday. With Freese mired in a 6-for-42 slump over the last 12 games, it was time for him to take a day off.

"[David]'s pressing a little bit, and we just wanted to give him a day to breathe a little bit, get his mind right, get his swing right and jump back on it," Matheny said before the series opener against the Padres.

Freese went 3-for-18 during the Cardinals' five-game road trip to the West Coast, including an 0-for-4, four-strikeout outing in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Dodgers. The third baseman has seen his average slip, from .312 to .259, since May 9.

"I think [if] you play this game long enough, you're going to go into slumps like this," Freese said. "The frustrating thing is us losing ballgames."

Freese had said previously that he didn't plan on making any changes to his routine in order to break out of the slump, but he has recognized what's been going wrong at the plate over the past few weeks and will address it. He said that he can feel himself opening up on his swing and will focus on trying to stay closed.

Matheny hasn't ruled out the possibility of giving Freese more time off in an effort to straighten out his swing.

Worth noting

• Manager Mike Matheny said on Monday that he's hoping both Allen Craig and Jon Jay will be ready to go once their stints on the 15-day disabled list are over. Craig has been sidelined since May 17 with a strained left hamstring, and Jay has been out since May 16 due to a sprained right shoulder. Craig will be eligible to return on June 1, Jay on May 31.

• Rookie first baseman Matt Adams, who collected his first Major League hit on Sunday in his first game with the Cardinals, plans to send the ball to his family in Philipsburg, Pa. Adams went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles against the Dodgers.

• The Cardinals have promoted right-handers Seth Maness and Scott Schneider from high Class A Palm Beach to Double-A Springfield. Taking their places on the Palm Beach roster are outfielder Mike Swinson and right-hander Chris Corrigan.