ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Lohse continues to preach caution in his return from a right forearm injury, but his aggressive rehabilitation timetable tells an entirely different story.

Lohse threw off a mound on Monday for the second time since he had surgery to repair the injury. He expects his next throw to be on Wednesday, at which time he will face hitters. Lohse believes that it will be less than two weeks before he is pitching in a game on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. Lohse last pitched for the Cardinals on May 22.

"If I'm facing hitters on Wednesday, if that goes well, then the next step is to try to look at when I could get a rehab start in," Lohse said. "That's down the road. I've still got to make it through the next couple days."

Lohse's first throw was Saturday. After only one day off, he took the mound again on Monday, and was thrilled with the results. He once again threw approximately 50 pitches in the bullpen at Busch Stadium, reporting delight with the movement on both his fastball and his offspeed offerings.

"Today was about as good as it could get," he said. "My stuff was sharper today -- felt really good. Just everything, pretty much cut it loose today and it was all positive. ... I threw about as hard as I would want to. I try not to go back to my old form of trying to throw as hard as I can every pitch. Everything was moving. Sinker had some sink today. Changeup, everything was good."

If Lohse sticks to the timetable, he will almost certainly return to active duty before fellow injured starter Brad Penny, who is still trying to recover from a strained right lat muscle.

"I went into it trying to be as positive as I could and as smart as I could at the same time," Lohse said. "Not trying to overdo it with the rehab work. But I think in my mind, I'm pretty close to where I want to be. Today was a great day. I didn't expect to get on a mound and be as sharp as I have been. I'm just trying to keep that rolling."

Already on DL, Freese breaks big toe

ST. LOUIS -- David Freese is not having a good month. Already on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his right ankle, Freese fractured the big toe of his left foot Sunday.

According to manager Tony La Russa, Freese was working out in the gym when he dropped a plate on his toe.

The toe injury might not affect the timetable for Freese's return, which was not expected until late July, at the earliest, with the ankle injury.

"They took an X-Ray and it is a little fracture," La Russa said. "They are saying it might not be any longer then his ankle. So I really don't know, but he has that to deal with as well."

Ottavino hopes to avoid shoulder surgery

ST. LOUIS -- Adam Ottavino remains hopeful that he can avoid surgery on his injured right shoulder, and was scheduled to consult with Cardinals personnel on Monday evening to move closer to a decision on the matter.

Ottavino is sidelined due to what the club called a SLAP tear in his shoulder. On July 15, the Cardinals announced that Ottavino would undergo an operation to repair the injury. But he told reporters on Monday that he believes other options may still exist.

Ottavino was initially diagnosed by Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' head team physician. He subsequently received a consultation from Dr. David Altchek, the Mets' team doctor. Altchek is a friend of, and at times even a collaborator with, Paletta.

"[Altchek] said there were multiple options," Ottavino said. "I know they have both been in touch. They're going to try to make the best decision possible. Between surgery and rehab, there's different [options]. I believe that rehab is an option. I've just got to make sure it's the right option. That's what I'm hoping for. But I'm going to make sure I make the right decision. I'm not going to base it on what I hope."

Ottavino, 24, last pitched on July 3.

Ludwick, Penny taking steps toward return

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Ludwick and Brad Penny made steps in their recovery from injuries on Monday.

Ludwick worked out at Busch Stadium, including making an aggressive run from first base to third base, as he attempts to return from a strained left calf. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Monday evening that Ludwick will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.

The outfielder suffered the injury on June 22 in Toronto. He attempted to play on it on June 25, but has not appeared in a game since and is currently on the 15-day disabled list.

Penny, meanwhile, threw lightly on flat ground on Monday as he tries to come back from a strained right lat muscle. It remains unclear when Penny will throw off a mound again.

"Just playing catch," Penny said. "You can't tell anything [from that]."

Cardinals recall right-hander Salas

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals recalled right-handed reliever Fernando Salas from Triple-A Memphis on Monday, optioning lefty Evan MacLane back to Memphis.

MacLane, 27, made two appearances in his second stint with the Major League club. After surrendering a walk-off home run in his big league debut on July 7 in Denver, he tossed a shutout inning of relief on Sunday against the Dodgers.

Salas, 25, has made six appearances for St. Louis this year. He has no decisions or saves, and has allowed a run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. Salas has struck out four against one walk.

Baby birds

Joe Mather went 3-for-3 with a home run and a walk, but Triple-A Memphis lost to New Orleans, 5-2, on Sunday. Mather is 7-for-18 (.389) with three extra-base hits and three walks in his past five games. ... Andrew Brown homered in Double-A Springfield's 4-3 loss to Northwest Arkansas. ... Arquimedes Nieto came one out short of a shutout in Class A Palm Beach's 2-0 win against Brevard County. ... Eric Fornataro allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings as Class A Quad Cities fell to Fort Wayne, 10-8. Fornataro had been touched for only 13 runs over his previous six starts. ... Audry Perez homered to help short-season Batavia beat Jamestown, 6-1. ... Seven players had multi-hit games for Rookie-level Johnson City, which beat Kingsport, 15-5. Philip Cerreto and Juan Castillo each had three hits including a home run.

Nieto is an easy choice as player of the day. The right-hander pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks, striking out seven. It was his second straight scoreless start. Nieto, 21, is 8-5 with a 3.36 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 36 walks in 99 innings for Palm Beach this year. He signed with the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent out of Panama in 2007.

Tidbits

Matt Holliday received a day off on Monday, a day after fellow All-Stars Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina were held out of the lineup. Manager Tony La Russa tries to make sure to give All-Stars a day off soon after the break. ... Tyler Greene is still not considered available to start after he was hit on the left hand by a pitch on Saturday. ... The Phillies began this week's series with a 12-5 record at the current Busch Stadium. They're one of two teams, along with the Brewers, with a winning record at the new ballpark.