NEW YORK -- Nick Punto utilized some unusual therapy to move forward with his troublesome right elbow.

Feeling "emotionally distraught" on Sunday, Punto picked up a baseball in the visitors' batting cage at Great American Ball Park. He hurled it with as much force as he could muster, a night after elbow discomfort led to him committing an error in the Cardinals' win over the Reds. At that point, Punto feared he was bound for the disabled list for the third time in 2011. Instead, it was at that moment that things began looking up for the veteran infielder.

"I was emotionally distraught, frustrated and I picked up a ball and just chucked it as hard as I could," Punto said.

"And I just felt release of something. I truly believe that it was just scar tissue locked up in there."

He took an off-day with his teammates on Monday, and on Tuesday, Punto participated in a pregame workout. His throws from shortstop and third base felt "normal," he said, and Punto came off the field with renewed optimism.

It appears that Punto will remain on the active roster, rather than needing to be placed on the DL. He's a key player for the Cardinals, providing defensive insurance at second base, shortstop and third base.

"To remain on the roster, he's going to have to throw," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's got to play defense."

It seems that Punto will be able to do just that, and it's good news for his team.

Cardinals ink Draft pick McElroy to deal

NEW YORK -- The Cardinals announced the signing of third-round Draft pick C.J. McElroy on Tuesday, completing a deal that had appeared to be close to done for about two weeks.

McElroy, 18, was the 109th overall selection in last month's First-Year Player Draft. He's regarded as a superior athlete, having held a football scholarship to the University of Houston to go along with his baseball prowess.

The 18-year-old outfielder will begin his professional career with the Cardinals' affiliate in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

McElroy comes from a long line of baseball players. His father, Chuck McElroy, pitched for 13 seasons in the Major Leagues. Cecil Cooper, who played 17 seasons and managed the Astros for parts of three years, is McElroy's uncle. Sylvester Cooper, who played in the Negro Leagues, was McElroy's grandfather.

Tidbits

• Manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that Allen Craig is likely about a week away from beginning a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.

• Outfielder Oscar Taveras was named the Midwest League's Player of the Week.

• Mets general manager Sandy Alderson briefly visited La Russa before the game. The two worked together, in the same respective jobs, with the Oakland Athletics.

• Though Tuesday's lineup may have looked familiar to fans, it was actually the first time La Russa has deployed it. In fact, Tuesday marked the first time that Ryan Theriot, Jon Jay, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday manned the first four spots in the order in the same game.