ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals third baseman David Freese is headed back to the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand, and he will have surgery on Tuesday morning.

"It's disappointing," Freese said before Monday's game against the Marlins. "It's pretty simple."

Freese, manager Tony La Russa and general manager John Mozeliak all spoke with the media on Monday about the latest setback for the third baseman, who played just 70 games a year ago before a right ankle injury in late June sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

"It's a tough break for David," La Russa said. "We're going to miss him."

La Russa estimated that Freese could return in six to eight weeks, while Freese said the doctor told him eight weeks and Mozeliak said it could take even longer.

"David Freese will have surgery tomorrow, and the extent of the surgery will likely be determined when the surgeon is in there," Mozeliak said. "At this point I think they believe they will end up putting a plate over the fracture, so you're looking at probably anywhere from nine to 12 weeks as far as his return."

Freese has a career .313 batting average with seven home runs and 57 RBIs in 112 games over his first three years in the Major Leagues. He hit .296 with four home runs and 36 RBIs in 70 games in 2010, and was hitting .356 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in his first 25 games this season.

"I'm going to be OK," Freese said. "When it happened, I was thinking about the team. That's what happened last year. I was devastated because I wanted to help the team. The same goes here. I'll get healthy and I'll get back out there and we'll be just fine."

The Cardinals' lineup struggled last season after Freese went out.

"Given how well he has played and also just looking back last year when we ended up losing him, it was really difficult to score runs," Mozeliak said. "I think the difference, though, between last year's team and this year's team is we're a little more balanced and we're a little deeper, so hopefully we can handle this one. But I think the way we have to look at him now is really getting back sometime by late July."

Rookie Daniel Descalso was in the starting lineup playing third base for Monday's game against the Marlins. Descalso is hitting .226 with five doubles, one triple and six RBIs in 24 games this season.

Descalso, who primarily played second base coming up through the Minors, has played third base in place of Freese at times this season. The Cardinals also have veteran utilityman Nick Punto, as well as Tyler Greene, who can play third base in spot duty. Allen Craig, who was activated from the disabled list on Monday, has played third base at times in the Minors.

"I don't think we have an answer right now at the Minor League level where we can just bring somebody up," Mozeliak said. "We really don't want to dwarf somebody's development like [Matt] Carpenter's, for example, by just bringing him up here as a placeholder. We'll see if we can handle this first with the players we have, and if not, we'll have to see if there's another answer."

Good time for Craig to rejoin Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- David Freese's injury and trip to the disabled list opened up a roster spot for outfielder Allen Craig, who got off to a good start in April before suffering a groin injury.

"The timing was right," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's healthy and ready to help us."

Craig suffered a strained left groin while stealing second base against the Dodgers on April 16, a game in which he went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored while raising his season average to .313.

"It's not fun being away from the team being hurt, but I feel good, feel healthy and got to go down to Springfield and play a few games, and now I'm good and ready to go," Craig said before Monday's game.

The outfielder played in two games at Double-A Springfield, going without a hit in six at-bats, before being told by Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak to return to St. Louis on Sunday.

"The most important thing was to be healthy and just to see pitches," Craig said. "I wasn't too worried about the results. I had some really good at-bats. I hit the ball hard a few times. I didn't get any hits, but that happens."

Tallet takes step closer to returning

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals left-handed reliever Brian Tallet, who is on the disabled list with a fractured bone in his right hand, threw a bullpen session before Monday's game and is getting closer to returning.

Tallet, however, did not catch any return throws during his session.

"He's still restricted that way," manager Tony La Russa said.

Tallet was injured against the D-backs on April 12, when he got tangled up with Stephen Drew on a play at first base.

"It's getting a lot closer," Tallet said. "Right now we're working on getting fitted for a kind of a splint to go in my glove to help protect the hand."

Tallet, signed by the Cardinals in the offseason as a free agent, had appeared in five games before suffering the injury. He was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked three, including one intentional.

"It's tough to watch your teammates go out there and play the game that you're getting paid to do and you're not able to do it for something as simple as not being able to catch the ball," Tallet said.

On Monday, Tallet was fitted for a piece of plastic that would be put in his glove to protect where the fracture occurred. That will be one of the next steps in his recovery process.

"We looked at X-rays today, and everything looked good," he said. "Right now they are trying to be a little precautious. They don't want me to go out there and something happens and break it again."

Schumaker rehabbing, but remains ways away

ST. LOUIS -- Injured Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker was on the field taking ground balls before Monday's game against the Marlins, but general manager John Mozeliak said Schumaker is still weeks away from returning.

At least two to four more weeks, according to the GM.

"We'll see how he responds," Mozeliak said. "We don't want to rush it. It's still May 2, even though obviously we've lost some players over the last few weeks. But we don't want to put ourselves in a position where we try to rush somebody back and they end up taking five steps backward."

Schumaker went on the disabled list on April 16 with a right triceps strain and has missed 14 games. The left-handed-hitting infielder was batting .241 with four doubles, one home run, eight RBIs and five runs scored in his first 54 at-bats over 14 games.

Schumaker had started 13 games at second base for the Cardinals before the injury. Nick Punto has started seven games there, while Daniel Descalso has started five and Tyler Greene, who was making the start there on Monday, was making his fifth start there.