PITTSBURGH -- Jason Motte's return to the Cardinals got a good bit closer on Monday.
Motte threw an aggressive bullpen session at PNC Park prior to Monday night's Cardinals vs. Pirates game and came through it feeling good, putting him on track to go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday. Motte has not pitched since Aug. 2, as a result of a shoulder injury.
"I felt good," Motte said. "I think we need to go to Springfield or Memphis and throw on Wednesday, day off Thursday, then throw on Friday in a game just to get a couple games."
Motte reported no discomfort in the joint after the throwing session. If he pitches on Wednesday and Friday in the Minor Leagues, he could conceivably be activated as soon as the Cardinals' weekend series in Washington, or perhaps on Monday in Houston.
Motte is a key cog in the Cardinals' bullpen. He's the primary option when the club needs a strikeout, especially against a right-handed hitter.
Feliz giving Cards plenty of infield options
PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals see new addition Pedro Feliz as a defensive upgrade at third base -- which the club viewed as a necessity given its ground-ball-oriented pitching staff. But adding Feliz has had another effect, one that has already shown up in the St. Louis lineup since the trade.
Felipe Lopez is doing what the Redbirds signed him to do: He's moving around the infield, starting almost every day, but not quite every game. It's probably the best thing for Lopez, who was stretched at third base and who deals with recurrent knee issues that made the everyday grind a tough one.
On Monday, Lopez started at shortstop for Brendan Ryan, adding an extra left-handed bat against a tough right-handed pitcher, Ross Ohlendorf -- though Ohlendorf was pulled due to injury in the first inning. Against difficult lefties, he has started for Skip Schumaker at second base. The added depth should bolster the Cards' production at both second base and shortstop, assuming that Feliz can hold down the fort at third.
"You can take advantage of a matchup," manager Tony La Russa said. "Ryan's actually done pretty well against this club, but this guy here [Ohlendorf] can be very tough and I think this is a better lineup. You couldn't even consider it otherwise, unless you wanted to play [Aaron] Miles at short or third."
Cards' 'walking wounded' making strides
PITTSBURGH -- Both of the Cardinals' "walking wounded" players made progress on Monday, but neither is ready to return to action just yet.
Left-handed reliever Dennys Reyes -- suffering from an elbow strain -- played catch on Monday, but has yet to throw off a mound. Outfielder Colby Rasmus -- dealing with a strained right calf -- ran in the outfield during pregame workouts and could soon be back in the lineup. Meanwhile, pitcher Jeff Suppan -- who is on the disabled list with a strained groin -- threw a bullpen session, but his return date is still uncertain.
"It's getting better," Reyes said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow. It's one of those things, you need to let it heal. It's going to take a little bit of time. I have to go day by day and see how it feels every day when I get to the park."
Reyes did not expect to pitch off a mound on Tuesday, and he said he will need to test out his elbow with a bullpen session before he appears in a game.
Rasmus sounded optimistic regarding his progress.
"Every day has been a step forward," he said. "No steps back."
Suppan may be the furthest along of the three, but because he's on the disabled list, his return may be the murkiest. The Cardinals would need to find a roster spot for the right-hander, which is easier said than done. It is distinctly possible that Suppan will not be activated until rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Triple-A Memphis won a wild one against Omaha on Sunday, prevailing, 10-9, behind big nights from Nick Stavinoha and Amaury Cazana among others. Stavinoha went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and Cazana had two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. ... Double-A Springfield scored five runs in the last three innings to beat San Antonio, 6-3. Daryl Jones was 3-for-4, reaching base four times. ... Richard Racobaldo had three hits in Class A Palm Beach's 6-1 loss to Charlotte. ... Shelby Miller pitched four innings, allowing a run on two hits with six strikeouts and three walks for Class A Quad Cities on Sunday. The River Bandits beat Kane County, 3-2, but Miller did not receive a decision. ... Nick Longmire singled and tripled, but short-season Batavia lost to Williamsport, 6-2. ... Cody Stanley had a single, a double and an RBI in rookie-level Johnson City's 3-1 win against Bristol.
It's been a rough year for Jones, but he was the player of the day on Sunday. The lefty-swinging outfielder had a home run, a double, a single and a walk, stole a base, scored twice and drove in three runs. For the year, Jones is batting .249 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .371 slugging percentage in his second season at Double-A. He was a third-round Draft pick out of a Spring High School (Texas) in 2005.
Manager Tony La Russa said Monday that he believes the Cardinals will soon know the makeup date for their rained-out game in Florida earlier this month. The leading option appears to be Sept. 20. ... La Russa indicated that while Amaury Cazana is not a likely candidate for a September callup, Joe Mather could receive significant consideration. ... Matt Holliday finished Sunday with 50 RBIs since June 18, the most in the National League in that span.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.