ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals agreed to a deal with free-agent left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who was released earlier this week by the Rangers. Rhodes, 41, will join the club today in time for St. Louis' game against the Rockies.

General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged that a deal had been reached on Thursday, and a formal announcement came from the club Friday. The Cardinals optioned catcher Tony Cruz to Triple-A Memphis to make room on the 25-man roster and designated Memphis pitcher Raul Valdes for assignment to make room for Rhodes on its 40-man roster.

Rhodes went 3-3 with a 4.81 ERA for Texas in 2011, but he remained effective against left-handed hitters -- especially away from the Rangers' hitter-friendly home ballpark. He held lefties to a .216 batting average with a .310 on-base percentage and a .405 slugging percentage for Texas. Left-handers are just 3-for-17 against him away from Arlington in 2011.

He adds left-handed depth to a bullpen that has gone with one lefty for quite some time. Rhodes projects as a specialist, which would allow Marc Rzepczynski to be freed from that role a little bit.

"Given our bullpen, I think it will be a nice lift to have that second lefty," Mozeliak said. "So yeah, I think it's an important guy to bring in. We've always had interest in him and just never been able to get a deal. So having him be a part of our bullpen, I think, will make sense and be a help."

Punto progressing, hopes to return within month

ST. LOUIS -- Nick Punto expects to resume baseball activities relatively soon, and holds out some hope that he could be playing for the Cardinals again within the next three weeks or so. Punto has not played since July 28, the result of a strained left oblique muscle.

"[I'm] progressing nicely," Punto said Thursday. "Feeling good -- hopefully start some baseball activities shortly. But every day it's getting a little stronger."

Punto acknowledged that he still feels something amiss in the area of the injury. Until that's gone, he won't be able to play. But his progress has him encouraged. He's likely to start with a throwing program before progressing to running and hitting.

"You can definitely have a setback with something like this," he said. "So, yeah, just make sure it's 100 percent. When I get back out there, I've got to stay out there."

Lynn optimistic, but faces long rehab ahead

ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn expressed some encouragement regarding his strained left oblique muscle on Thursday, but acknowledged that he's still facing a long road to recovery. Lynn suffered the injury in Tuesday night's loss to the Brewers and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.

"Actually, today I felt better," he said prior to Thursday's series finale. "Yesterday was probably the worst day. But so far it's been going well. I hope to get back as soon as I can. This is the first time I've ever had anything like that, so I don't really know how to go about telling them how I feel. I've just got to be careful. So I'm just going to do everything they tell me to do, and whenever they tell me I'm ready to go again, I'll be ready to go."

Lynn explained that the injury didn't just happen on one pitch. He felt it build over the final three pitches he threw on Tuesday, and after his last offering, he knew he could not continue.

The Cardinals expect to have Lynn back before the season ends, but anything more specific than that remains hard to pinpoint. Oblique injuries are notoriously tricky.

"Right now we're just trying to get everything to where it feels good, and then we'll go from there," Lynn said. "They haven't really told me a time frame or anything like that. Some guys come back faster than others. ... Right now, just from yesterday to today, it feels a lot better. So that's a good sign."

Holliday sits again, but not likely to go on DL

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday missed a second straight day on Thursday due to a lower back injury that he suffered on Wednesday afternoon. It remains somewhat unclear when Holliday will return to the Cardinals' lineup, but it could be as early as Friday against Colorado.

"My understanding is he should be ready to go tomorrow," general manager John Mozeliak said on Thursday, "but I was also hopeful he'd be ready to go today. 'Day to day' is the phrase."

The club does not expect Holliday to need to go on the 15-day disabled list.

"I think the expectation is that he plays this weekend," manager Tony La Russa said after Thursday's 5-2 win over the Brewers. "But right now I don't know if that's tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday. But when you're messing around with backs, be sure, the best you can."