MILWAUKEE -- Adam Wainwright anticipates he will throw his first bullpen session since undergoing elbow surgery within the next two weeks. Wainwright has begun throwing off a mound, but to a standing catcher only. He has one more full week of doing that before he advances to throwing a regular bullpen session, with a catcher in a crouch.

Wainwright's current throwing sessions are intensive. Following a brief warmup, he makes 20 throws from 120 feet, then throws 10 times off a mound to a standing catcher. He takes a break, then repeats the 30 throws, takes another break, and repeats one more time.

He follows that protocol three times a week. Next week he will do something similar, but with the long-toss from 180 feet. The week after that, he will throw a side session -- meaning approximately Sept. 12 -- for his first time throwing a bullpen since his Spring Training Tommy John surgery.

"I can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Wainwright said.

However, any notion of the right-hander appearing in some sort of competitive environment this year has pretty much been eliminated. There had been some hope, at least on Wainwright's part, that he might be able to appear in a Minor League rehabilitation game if one of the Cardinals affiliates made it well into the playoffs.

That now is off, even if Wainwright is using the possibility of some sort of competition as motivation.

"Realistically the only way to get in a game is if we were to go deep in the playoffs," Wainwright said. "And I think realistically the chances of that happening -- not that we go deep in the playoffs, but the chances of them placing me in a game if we do -- are very, very, very, very, very, very small. But my work is drastically improved with the thought that I'm working for something."

Wainwright will take November and December off from throwing entirely, then report to the club's Jupiter, Fla., complex in January to begin preparing for the 2012 season.

La Russa explains starting Dickson in finale

MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stood firm Thursday morning behind his decision to hold ace Chris Carpenter out of his team's series finale at Miller Park. In fact, the manager said he never seriously reconsidered his decision even after St. Louis won the first two games of its final series in Milwaukee in 2011.

Brandon Dickson got the ball for Thursday's game, with Carpenter to pitch at home on Friday against the Reds. La Russa did not go into great depth about his decision to give Carpenter the extra day of rest instead of pitching him against the first-place Brewers, except to say he felt it was the best way to maximize the team's total number of wins for the season.

"It comes down to my analysis about what's our best chance to win 'X' number of games from here to the end," he said. "That's what it comes down to. And that's what I decided. That's my responsibility, and everybody else can agree or disagree. And that's part of the game.

"There's a bunch of variables that went into it, and when you see how it plays out, everybody's going to get the same number of starts. When you do what you were planning on doing, when he gets an extra day, I give it to him. He's going to have a bunch of starts where he doesn't have the extra day. There were a lot of variables involved. I don't know how you even get into discussing it. Let everybody who wants to disagree, disagree."

The counter argument, of course, is that Thursday's game essentially counts twice. The Cardinals still hold out a flicker of hope to catch the Brewers in the National League Central, entering Thursday with an 8 1/2-game deficit, 26 games to play and four remaining head-to-head games against the Brewers.

La Russa chose not to frame it in those terms, though. In fact, in his mind, having won the series already argued against moving Carpenter up to regular rest. The former Cy Young winner will be pitching on five days' rest on Friday.

"I said at the beginning of the series, if we were 0-2, I wouldn't pitch Carpenter," he said. "If we were 1-1 in the rubber game, I wouldn't pitch Carpenter. We have the best case, so there's less reason to pitch Carpenter. Not more reason. Less reason. ... This is probably the best scenario to not change it, but I wasn't going to change it anyway. That's not how I looked at it."

Cards kick off 'Like Mike' campaign for Shannon

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals have begun a campaign dubbed "Like Mike" to honor longtime broadcaster Mike Shannon and, they hope, help Shannon be nominated for the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award.

Fans can go to cardinals.com/LikeMike to see photos of Shannon and hear some of his most memorable calls from 40 years behind the microphone. From there, they can follow a link to vote for Shannon in his quest to be one of the 10 finalists for the Frick Award, which is the top honor in baseball broadcasting.

Shannon, Al Hrabosky, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are among the 75 names who are up for fan voting as of Thursday. From among those 75 broadcasters, three will appear on the final ballot of 10 names to determine the winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame's annual broadcasting award.

Shannon has been one of the radio voices of the Cardinals since 1972 and has been part of the organization since 1962. Voting runs from Sept. 1-30. The results of the fan ballot will be announced on Oct. 5, and the 2012 Frick winner will be announced in December at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Tidbits

• Right-hander Brandon Dickson was the Cardinals' only callup on Thursday, the first day clubs were eligible to expand rosters beyond 25 players. Additional players will be added when Triple-A Memphis' season ends, and possibly sooner if Memphis is eliminated from playoff contention. That seems likely, as the Redbirds are one game from elimination.

• Manager Tony La Russa said that the club has not determined yet whether Dickson will make any additional starts in 2011.

• La Russa also said that infielder/outfielder Allen Craig, who received a scare when he hit his right knee against the outfield wall on Wednesday night, was fine to play as of Thursday morning. Craig was not in the starting lineup, but La Russa said he does not expect Craig to need to be held out of action.

• Kyle Lohse was considered an available reliever on Thursday, and likely will be again on Friday. Lohse will throw a bullpen session on Saturday in advance of his start the following Tuesday.

Baby birds

• Triple-A Memphis' playoff hopes dimmed even further on Wednesday with a 3-2 loss to Albuquerque in 11 innings. Memphis' elimination number stands at one. Brian Broderick pitched six solid innings for the Redbirds, allowing two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

• Double-A Springfield was eliminated from playoff contention in a 5-1 loss to Tulsa. Chris Swauger had a single, an RBI and two walks on a very quiet offensive night for the S-Cards.

• Class A Palm Beach was rained out against Bradenton.

• Kolten Wong was 4-for-4 and Jonathan Rodriguez homered twice as Class A Quad Cities thrashed Clinton, 21-10. Wong has been absolutely torrid lately, going 20-for-39 (.513) over his last nine games with six extra-base hits and 10 runs scored.

• Reggie Williams singled, tripled and drove in two runs in short-season Batavia's 4-3 loss to State College.

• Rookie Level Johnson City lost Game 1 of its playoff series with Danville, 6-3. Tyrell Jenkins allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. The series is best-of-three, meaning Johnson City needs a win at home on Thursday to keep its season alive.

• The Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Cardinals are done for the year.

Rodriguez slugged his way to player of the day honors. He went 4-for-5 with two homers, four runs and three RBIs. Rodriguez is having a "three true outcomes" kind of season, batting .251 with a .387 on-base percentage and a .479 slugging percentage, 20 homers, 72 walks and 106 strikeouts for the River Bandits. Rodriguez, who recently turned 22, was a 17th-round Draft pick out of a Florida junior college in 2009.