DENVER -- What seemed like a novelty two weeks ago is now something the Cardinals are taking quite seriously. Allen Craig, second baseman, is no stunt. It's a very real possibility as the organization continues to search for the best way to get Craig's potent bat into the lineup.
Craig made his sixth start at second base on Friday, and will continue to get opportunities there as the season goes along. The Cardinals have three regular outfielders, all of them essential parts of their offense, which removes one outlet for regular playing time for Craig. Another option is third base, but manager Tony La Russa feels that second is a better fit for Craig.
So he'll keep getting chances there. And it may not be just this year. Craig's long-term future in the St. Louis organization could be as a second baseman.
"He could be a second baseman with offense, could be a big benefit to the club, which would be a big benefit to him," La Russa said. "As far as playing time and money and ... It's not a wacky thing where there's nothing else to be gained."
La Russa explained that in his view, the majority of plays at second base are easier to handle than the typical plays at shortstop and third base. He remains concerned about Craig's aptitude at turning the double play, but that has not deterred the manager from using Craig at the keystone.
"You can catch it, you can knock it down and throw somebody out, and that's what I'm banking on," La Russa said. "What's the most impressive thing is not that he can make the routine play, because he's got good hands. It's that it hasn't affected his hitting. That was the worry. But it gives him an opportunity and he's made it work. He's gotten a lot of big hits for us, no matter where he plays."
Craig, an even-tempered sort, has no complaints. He's taking extra work with coaches Jose Oquendo and Joe Pettini, working to become as effective at the position as he can be.
"It hasn't been anything crazy," he said, "just getting the work in when I can and playing the games the best I can."
Prospect Miller promoted to Double-A
DENVER -- Shelby Miller's work in Class A is done. It's off to the high Minors for the Cardinals' top prospect.
Miller pitched seven dominant innings for Class A Palm Beach on Friday night. On Saturday, he began the trek north to join the Cardinals' Double-A Springfield affiliate. Miller, still 20 years old, had little left to prove in the Florida State League after racking up 81 strikeouts in 53 innings.
He'll make his Double-A debut sometime late in the coming week, farm director John Vuch said. Vuch explained that it's not just the results that got Miller promoted, but how he did it as well.
"Shelby made solid progress in using all of his pitches at Palm Beach," Vuch wrote in an email. "In his last few starts, he progressively got more of his outs using his changeup and breaking pitch. He'll always be a power pitcher, and we'd certainly want him to continue to work primarily off his fastball, but by having three pitches in his arsenal, he'll be better equipped to compete at the higher levels."
Miller joins Zack Cox, another of the organization's top prospects, who was recently promoted from Palm Beach to Springfield. Cox was the club's 2010 top pick in the First-Year Player Draft, while Miller was the club's top choice in 2009.
Holliday hopes to return to lineup on Sunday
DENVER -- Matt Holliday professed an increased level of optimism on Saturday regarding the nagging discomfort in his left quadriceps. Holliday was pleased with his pregame workout on Saturday, and left open the possibility that he could return to the Cardinals' starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Rockies.
Holliday has not started since Sunday, May 22. He started at designated hitter for all three games of last weekend's series in Kansas City, but has not started in the outfield since May 18, when he first felt some tightness in the area.
"It was a good day," he said Saturday afternoon. "I'd like to play tomorrow. We'll see. [Head athletic trainer Greg Hauck] is wanting me to be completely symptom-free. I think [I'll be] pinch-hitting tonight and then looking at the possibility of playing tomorrow."
Tallet not concerned about elbow
DENVER -- Brian Tallet expressed no concern on Saturday regarding the left elbow tightness that forced him out of Saturday night's game against the Rockies. Tallet participated in pregame workouts and said he saw no reason why he would need to miss any time.
Tallet threw six pitches on Saturday before teammates called for an athletic trainer when they saw him indicating something was amiss in his pitching arm. Manager Tony La Russa and assistant athletic trainer Barry Weinberg prevailed upon Tallet to leave the game, although he preferred to keep pitching.
On Saturday, he said the joint was not causing him any problems.
"I woke up, felt pretty good," Tallet said prior to on-field workouts. "I feel fine. If I go out and play catch and I have no issues, there's no reason I can't pitch tonight, the next night, whatever."
Andrew Brown stayed hot with two doubles and an RBI, but Brandon Dickson had a rough start and Triple-A Memphis lost to Omaha on Friday, 4-2. Dickson allowed four runs on 12 hits in four innings, striking out four with one walk. Brown has a nine-game hitting streak, and has five extra-base hits in that span.
Jose Garcia, Steven Hill and Chris Swauger all homered in Double-A Springfield's 12-4 win against Corpus Christi.
Shelby Miller bid the Florida State League a fond farewell with a brilliant start, tossing seven dominant innings before being promoted to Double-A. However, he did not factor in the decision as Class A Palm Beach lost to Lakeland, 3-2.
Cody Stanley homered and walked in Class A Quad Cities' 5-4 loss to Burlington.
Despite his team's defeat, Miller is the player of the day. He struck out 12 and walked one, giving up a run on three hits. He finishes his tenure at Palm Beach with a 2-3 record, a 2.89 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 20 walks in 53 innings.
Yadier Molina was back in the lineup and feeling fine on Saturday. He was removed from Friday night's game after eight innings as a precaution due to some discomfort in his left ankle.
The Cardinals outrighted P.J. Walters off of their 40-man roster on Friday. Walters remains in the organization, pitching for Triple-A Memphis, but he is no longer on the 40-man roster.
Manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that Kyle Lohse is not the only pitcher he'd be willing to use to pinch-hit or pinch-run, even though Lohse has been the primary recipient of those opportunities. La Russa noted Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan as potential alternatives, depending on a variety of factors.
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.