ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals currently have five players on the disabled list, but progress has been slow for the three players who are the closest to returning -- second baseman Skip Schumaker and relievers Brian Tallet and Bryan Augenstein.

Asked about updates for those players on Thursday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said: "Just a day further along."

Schumaker, who is out with a right triceps injury, has been taking ground balls, but has not yet been cleared to throw or hit. He said on Thursday that he would likely be able to begin hitting again on Sunday.

Augenstein and Tallet have been throwing, but there is no timetable for either. The next step for Tallet, who broke his right hand in a game against the D-backs last month, is actually just playing catch.

The left-hander has been able to throw, but has not been allowed to catch the ball yet. He said Thursday that he will be cleared to do that on Friday.

Jay keeps learning while adjusting to new role

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay was in high school when his new teammate, Lance Berkman, was beginning to establish himself in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros more than a decade ago.

Now the 26-year-old Jay is trying to learn as much as he can from the switch-hitting Berkman, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason to play a position (right field) where Jay started 43 games a year ago as a rookie.

"It's been great for me," Jay said Thursday.

Jay said he watches Berkman closely during batting practice and tries to pick up whatever tips he can, since both hit left-handed. He added that his new teammate is always accessible and ready to help.

Berkman's hot start at the plate -- he entered Thursday batting .390 and leading the Cardinals in home runs (nine) and RBIs (28) -- has meant less playing time for Jay, who has started just six games this season after starting 66 in 2010.

"It's a different role," Jay said. "I'm trying to be the best at it."

Jay is hitting .235 this season, with eight hits in 34 at-bats, and has two home runs, two RBIs and four runs scored. He is two-for-10 as a pinch-hitter, but both of those hits have been home runs.

The University of Miami product had a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday against Marlins closer Leo Nunez.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Thursday that Jay has done an "excellent" job in his new role this season.

"It's hard to find him playing time, but he stays ready," La Russa said.

Augenstein pleased with rehab progress

ST LOUIS -- Cardinals reliever Bryan Augenstein, who strained his right groin in a game against the D-backs on April 12, said Thursday he threw for the third straight day.

"I feel like I'm making good progress," he said.

It was the third consecutive day that the right-hander was able to throw on flat ground. Augenstein said he threw from as far back as 175 feet, which was another step forward.

"It's getting the form back," he said. "It's testing it. I still felt a few things, but it's probably loosening back up and trying to get the flexibility back after all the strengthening I've been doing. It feels good, though."

Augenstein, who was 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in five appearances before getting hurt, said there is no timetable for his return, but expects to go on a rehab assignment when he's healthy enough.

It could be difficult for the 6-foot-6 righty, who last pitched in the Major Leagues with the D-backs in 2009, to get a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen when he's recovered.

When Augenstein and lefty Brian Tallet (broken right hand) both went to the 15-day disabled list on April 13, the Cardinals recalled right-handers Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez from Triple-A Memphis. Salas and Sanchez have impressed in late-inning situations, and Sanchez, the rookie from Venezuela, has converted two save opportunities.