ST. LOUIS -- As Matt Holliday addressed reporters in the home clubhouse at Busch Stadium on Monday, there was no missing the fact that Holliday was a man who had recently undergone surgery.

It was the first time Holliday had been interviewed since he needed an emergency appendectomy on Thursday. He spoke relatively softly, though his sense of humor was clearly still intact. Holliday said he's progressing very well from day to day, but it was quite clear that he's not in any shape to be doing anything athletic right now.

The Cardinals have said that their cleanup hitter was given a mandate of five days after the surgery with no significant physical activity. However, Holliday hopes that it won't be very long after that required down time when he can actually play in Major League games.

"I told them I'd like to not go on the [disabled list]," Holliday said. "I think I can play before 15 days if they can make it without me for the first week."

Giants outfielder Andres Torres returned after 12 days last season, and Reggie Sanders was back in under two weeks for the Cardinals in the spring of 2005. A routine recovery is more like four weeks, but Holliday doesn't much like the sound of that.

"I'm hoping that my case is different and that it will be a pretty rapid recovery," he said.

Holliday said that he had been feeling some discomfort in his abdomen for about a week before he went in to get checked out for appendicitis. Once he saw a doctor, he said, it was less than an hour before he was informed that he needed surgery. He was under the knife later that day.

Club officials said over the weekend that they would like to have a decision by Tuesday or so as to whether they will place Holliday on the DL.

Punto's recovery is nearing completion

ST. LOUIS -- Nick Punto is doing just about everything except running at a full sprint, and he's very encouraged about his recovery from February surgery for a sports hernia.

Punto is not only cleared to hit, he's been taking infield with his teammates. To watch him in the field in workouts, there's little evidence that he's compromised relative to anyone else.

"I'm feeling good," he said on Monday. "I'm doing baseball activities every day."

It's still unclear exactly when Punto will be cleared to participate in games. Once that happens, though, he'll likely need more than a few Minor League rehabilitation games before he can be added to the Major League roster. Punto had his operation very early in Spring Training, before the first Grapefruit League game, so he has yet to face live pitching in 2011.

Garcia looks to build on early success

ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia downplayed his selection on Monday as co-winner of the year's first National League Player of the Week award, but there was no minimizing the game he pitched to earn the honor.

Garcia pitched the only shutout in the Major Leagues to date this season, striking out nine Padres as the Cardinals secured their first victory of the year. He shared the award with Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. For both second-year players, it was the first time being named Player of the Week.

"He was just big, winning the game," manager Tony La Russa said. "That game was so important that if we'd used everybody [in the bullpen] up, it would have been worth it. But he was just outstanding."

Garcia was pleased to be honored, but made it clear he's looking ahead.

"It's a long season," he said. "It's one game, the first game. It's obviously exciting, but you can't get too excited about it. If it was the last week of the year, then you'd be [more excited]."

Tidbits

After one day with the pitcher hitting eighth, manager Tony La Russa returned to the conventional alignment with the pitcher in the No. 9 spot on Monday. Part of the reasoning was that if Skip Schumaker batted ninth, it would leave no obvious candidate to hit in the No. 7 spot in front of the pitcher. La Russa doesn't like having a player such as Yadier Molina, who doesn't have much speed, hit before the pitcher. ... Gerald Laird will likely make his first start of the season either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Pirates. That would leave Tyler Greene as the only non-pitching Cardinals player yet to make a start in 2011. ... Minor League Spring Training wrapped up on Sunday as the Cardinals' farmhands played "camp games" against each other. Lance Lynn pitched seven solid innings for Triple-A Memphis against Double-A Springfield (three runs, four hits, nine strikeouts, no walks), while Tony Cruz homered and doubled for Memphis. Zack Cox had a hit for Class A Palm Beach against Class A Quad Cities.