ST. LOUIS -- It started before Matt Holliday even took the first question Tuesday. As he walked across the clubhouse at Busch Stadium, a reporter asked whether Holliday wanted to address whether anything was bugging him.
And so began one of the stranger news conferences of the year, as Holliday deadpanned his way through a conversation about his close encounter of the insect kind one night before. Holliday had to leave Monday night's game against the Dodgers when a moth became lodged in his right ear.
"It wasn't really all that painful," Holliday said. "It was more annoying. Like when you have water in your ear and you can't get it out. Except it was a bug."
The slugger joked that he had "bonded" with the now-deceased insect. Holliday, who still had the moth in a plastic bag in his locker, showed it off to reporters after he chatted. The bug was alive when it was removed from Holliday's ear -- a procedure done with tweezers.
"I figure we're friends," Holliday quipped. "We've bonded. He's not alive anymore, but I am."
It was just the latest episode in a strange season for Holliday, who has also missed time due to an appendectomy and a lower-back injury that he sustained while preparing to lift weights. He's hoping that it was the last such incident.
"I'm not sure if [the year] could get any weirder," he said. "Hopefully not."
Schumaker takes hill to save bullpen
ST. LOUIS -- Skip Schumaker has long wanted the opportunity to pitch in a Major League game. Now that he's done it, though, once is enough.
Schumaker pitched the ninth inning of the Cardinals' 13-2 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday, striking out two batters and allowing a two-run homer to former teammate Aaron Miles. Now that he's scratched the itch, he'll be fine if he doesn't get the chance again.
"You never want to be in that situation, because that means you're down by a lot," said Schumaker, who did a little pitching in college. "It's a lot closer to the plate, to the hitter, than I remembered from college."
Schumaker topped 90 mph on the radar gun. He said that his arm, troubled earlier in the year by an elbow injury, felt fine both before and after. He was mostly just frustrated to give up a long ball to Miles, never known as a power threat.
"To give up a homer to Miles of all guys was a little disappointing," he said good-naturedly. "But it is what it is. It was fun. But I don't think I want to do it again, just because that means we're down by a lot."
Theriot, Furcal return to lineup Tuesday
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals were back to 25 fully available players on Tuesday, thanks to the return to regular duty of infielders Ryan Theriot and Rafael Furcal.
Theriot and Furcal had both been limited in recent days due to minor injuries, though Furcal appeared as a defensive replacement late in Monday night's loss to the Dodgers.
Theriot started at second base and Furcal at shortstop. It's a familiar alignment, as the two served as the double-play combination several times in September of last season when they were teammates in Los Angeles.
Theriot had experienced some mild right hamstring discomfort over the weekend in Chicago. Furcal had been out with a hand injury he sustained when he tried to stabilize himself during a fall in the batting cage at Wrigley Field.
Punto progressing from oblique strain
ST. LOUIS -- Nick Punto is getting closer to returning to the Cardinals.
Punto, who has not played since July 28 due to a strained left oblique muscle, has begun swinging a bat as he rehabilitates from the injury. He has been throwing for a couple of weeks now, and as of this week he has progressed from hitting off a tee to taking soft toss.
"Hopefully in a few days I'll get out there and take some batting practice with the team," he said.
Minor League seasons are nearing their end, but Punto expects to be able to go out on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment before the early-September conclusions of those seasons. He said Tuesday that he would hope to only need two or three games before returning to the active roster.
Tony La Russa said that the club has begun discussing potential September callups, but the skipper did not reveal who those players might be. He did, however, seem to downplay the possibility of a callup for third baseman Zack Cox, the team's first-round Draft pick in 2010.
Allen Craig made his second start in center field on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals remind fans that Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, initially scheduled for an evening start, will instead take place at 3:10 p.m. CT, and will be carried on FOX.
Triple-A Memphis unleashed an 18-hit assault, including four from Matt Carpenter and two homers from Tyler Greene, in a 16-7 thrashing of Albuquerque on Monday. Carpenter has five doubles in the past two games.
Joe Kelly pitched six strong innings Monday to help lead Double-A Springfield past Corpus Christi, 4-1. Kelly allowed a run on seven hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Class A Palm Beach was off on Monday.
Cody Stanley hit a 12th-inning walk-off home run, giving Class A Quad Cities a 5-4 win against Beloit. Oscar Taveras was 4-for-5 with a home run.
Short-season Batavia split a doubleheader with Mahoning Valley, winning by a 3-2 score before losing, 11-3. Todd McInnis pitched seven solid innings in the victory.
Matthew Williams was 4-for-5 in rookie-level Johnson City's 5-3 win over Burlington.
Greene is the player of the day for continuing his barrage against Triple-A pitching. He homered twice and drew a walk, driving in three runs and scoring three, in Memphis' rout. He's batting .340 on the year with a .425 on-base percentage, .637 slugging percentage, 15 steals in 16 tries and 33 extra-base hits in 212 at-bats. He was a first-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2005.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer, and follow him on Twitter @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.