BALTIMORE -- Manager Tony La Russa wasted no time putting his two new additions into the starting lineup. David Freese and Nick Punto, who were officially activated from the disabled list on Monday, both started on Tuesday night after each had missed more than a month of games.
Freese got the call at third base and the No. 5 spot in the batting order, offering needed depth to a lineup doing without usual No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols. Punto started at second base in place of Skip Schumaker, giving the lefty-swinging Schumaker a day off against tough left-handed starter Zach Britton.
Neither wasted much time making an impact. Freese singled off Britton in his first at-bat and later scored on Mark Hamilton's single. Punto followed with an RBI single of his own, plating Colby Rasmus, who'd walked.
Both infielders spent a week rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. Freese missed nearly two months due to a broken bone in his left hand, whereas Punto was out about six weeks because of a right forearm strain.
Freese came away from his Minor League experience very pleased with how he saw the ball and swung the bat.
"I went down with the objective to make sure I was seeing the ball," Freese said. "Working counts, not just going up there and seeing the first heater and attacking it. I felt good. I was seeing balls. I was taking offspeed [pitches] out of the zone, and that was one [thing] I was kind of worried about."
Punto, meanwhile, had only three games in the field to test his sore arm after serving as designated hitter for the beginning of his rehab assignment, but he has no worries going forward.
"[On Sunday] I had to dive up the middle, get up quick and make a strong throw to first," Punto said. "And that was kind of, for me, a mental block. It was nice to be able to do that."
Regardless of why, Rasmus happy for reversal
BALTIMORE -- It's difficult for Colby Rasmus to say whether he's turned a corner, because he's still not entirely sure what he needs to turn away from. Rasmus went 5-for-13 with three extra-base hits over the last four games of the recent homestand, a welcome turn from the 19-for-109 slump that led up to it.
But compared with past slumps, Rasmus said, this one always felt different. He never felt lost, never felt as though he didn't have a chance.
"It [wasn't] like last year, when I was striking out a whole lot," Rasmus said. "I feel like the last month and a half, I've been putting the ball in play, taking good at-bats. I went to a lot of 3-2 counts, making the pitcher throw some pitches. Just, whenever it came down to it, it felt like the ball didn't go as right for me sometimes as it did for them."
Rasmus recently underwent a routine eye exam but downplayed any connection between that and his mini-surge -- if only because he isn't sure he was all that far off, regardless of the results.
"It's definitely been a weird one for me," he said. "Normally when I struggle, it's mostly because I'm punching out left and right. Somebody said something the other day [that] my average on balls in play is, like, .210 or something. It's not good."
Triple-A Memphis split a doubleheader with Omaha on Monday, losing, 2-1, before taking a 5-2 win. Adron Chambers had a triple and a home run on the day.
Double-A Springfield saw a late lead get away in a 6-5 loss to Tulsa. Matt Adams, Jermaine Curtis and D'Marcus Ingram each had two hits.
Class A Palm Beach swept a doubleheader from Jupiter, winning by scores of 5-1 and 4-2. Rainel Rosario had two hits, including one for extra bases, in each game.
Kolten Wong, the Cardinals' first-round pick in this month's Draft, had a strong professional debut for Class A Quad Cities. Wong went 2-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice fly, a run and two RBIs.
Casey Rasmus went 3-for-5 with a triple in short-season Batavia's 4-3 win over Jamestown.
Tyrell Jenkins allowed five runs on six hits but struck out five against one walk in rookie-level Johnson City's 10-5 win over Elizabethton. Jenkins permitted two home runs.
The Gulf Coast League Cardinals managed eight hits and four walks but still lost to the GCL Marlins, 2-0.
Wong edges out Rosario for player of the day honors. The University of Hawaii product started at second base and batted third in his first pro game, and he even turned a double play.
Right-hander Carlos Martinez, one of the organization's top prospects, was promoted from low Class A Quad Cities to high Class A Palm Beach. Martinez, 19, made eight starts for Quad Cities and went 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 14 walks in 38 2/3 innings.
General manager John Mozeliak has some hope that Allen Craig could return to active duty prior to the All-Star break, but it's more likely that Craig will be back afterward. Craig is sidelined with a broken bone in his right kneecap.
The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that through the recent "Teams United for Joplin" weekend at Busch Stadium, Cardinals Care raised more than $200,000 for tornado relief.
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.