ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman remained out of the Cardinals' lineup for the second straight game despite lobbying manager Mike Matheny for his inclusion in Friday's home opener.
An MRI conducted on Thursday confirmed that Berkman suffered a minor tear in his left calf when he legged out a triple against the Reds on Tuesday. The Cardinals were encouraged by that diagnosis, as well as how much better Berkman said he was feeling Thursday and Friday.
But Matheny wasn't going to listen to any pleas Berkman made, particularly with Friday's messy weather conditions. Temperatures were in the low 50s midday, and the field was slick after hours of rain.
"Today was the day that just didn't seem to make sense to push him," Matheny said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Matheny wouldn't rule out using Berkman as a pinch-hitter in the series opener against the Cubs, though the pause in Matheny's answer suggested he'd prefer to stay away from using Berkman at all, for precautionary reasons.
Taking Berkman's place at first base was Matt Carpenter, who also started there on Wednesday. After batting cleanup in that game, Carpenter was slotted into the seventh spot in the order on Friday. He finished the road trip 2-for-10 with three RBIs.
Carpenter 'getting stronger' with rehab work
ST. LOUIS -- There remains no timetable for when Chris Carpenter will be cleared to begin throwing again, though the right-hander said on Friday that he is "feeling better [and] definitely getting stronger" through his ongoing rehab work. That work includes exercises designed to increase the strength in Carpenter's right shoulder.
It has been more than three weeks now since Carpenter stopped his throwing program. The lack of arm strength was soon after determined to be related to nerve irritation. At the time of the diagnosis, it was expected that Carpenter would be limited to strengthening exercises for at least three weeks.
"It's still day to day," Carpenter said. "We'll talk about what's going on here this weekend. We'll talk about what our goals are."
General manager John Mozeliak told reporters in Cincinnati on Tuesday that Carpenter would undergo a battery of tests this week to see how much strength Carpenter has regained in his shoulder. As of Friday morning, Carpenter said he had not gone through any tests, nor was he aware of any being scheduled.
Cards trio on DL plugging along in recovery
ST. LOUIS -- Though none of the players currently on the disabled list accompanied the Cardinals on the last two legs of their three-city road trip, all were at Busch Stadium on Friday in order to be a part of the home opener festivities. Each also provided an update on their condition.
Skip Schumaker played in his first extended spring training game in Jupiter, Fla., on Thursday. He spent time at both second and in the outfield, while also taking some much needed at-bats. He noted that there have been no setbacks during his continued recovery from a right oblique strain.
Schumaker is scheduled to remain in St. Louis at least through Saturday, and he projected that he'd head out for a Minor League rehab stint in either Double-A or Triple-A immediately after. Of particular importance is getting at-bats, since Schumaker took only 21 in Grapefruit League play before getting injured.
"I don't want to come into this thing not feeling good and not able to help out," Schumaker said. "Selfishly you want to come back as fast as you can, but we have a really good situation here, and there's no reason to take someone's spot if I'm not going to help them out."
Scott Linebrink (right shoulder capsulitis) played catch from about a 75-80 foot distance on Friday. It marked the first time Linebrink has thrown since being placed on the disabled list. This is just the start of Linebrink's throwing program, though, which will likely include a Minor League rehab stint on the tail end.
Linebrink's last outing came on March 29, and he explained on Friday that he felt his shoulder lock up on him while facing the second of the six hitters he'd see in that outing. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list a few days later and is eligible to come off as soon as he is healthy.
"I'm sure this will be just a blip on the radar, and we'll just keep working through it, and in a few weeks this will all be behind us," Linebrink said. "[Today's throwing session] is progress, and you have to take progress as it comes."
After participating in Opening Day festivities in Miami on April 4, Allen Craig returned to St. Louis to continue physical therapy on his surgically repaired right knee. He said on Friday that he is likely to return to Florida on Sunday. The Cardinals would have the option of having Craig play in extended spring training or with the team's Class A club there in Jupiter.
"I've had no setbacks," Craig said. "Strength is getting there."
Schumaker, not Craig, is expected to be the first ready to come off the DL.
The Cardinals will have their World Series ring presentation prior to their day game against the Cubs on Saturday. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. CT, 35 minutes before first pitch.
ESPN has announced that it will televise the Cardinals-Cubs game on Monday, May 14. First pitch for that game is now scheduled for 6:07 p.m. CT.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum spent some time reflecting on his short stint playing for Tony La Russa prior to facing the Cardinals, now managed by Mike Matheny, on Friday. Sveum played 30 games for the Athletics in 1993, and La Russa, who was at Busch Stadium on Friday for the Cardinals' home opener celebrations, used Sveum at five different defensive positions.
"He always played the big boys against the best pitchers," Sveum said. "But the thing about Tony was he gave the bench players an opportunity and always put them in situations where they were going to succeed, meaning me, because I was on the bench. You feel good about yourself, except one day when I had to face Randy Johnson and he struck out 17 that day."
It took some prodding, but eventually Matheny admitted that his children would be missing part of their school day on Friday to attend the team's home opener. The hesitancy seemed to come from him not wanting his kids to get in trouble for missing class. Said Matheny, who drove his children to school in the morning: "My kids will be here, but they got part of their education in today. They wouldn't miss it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.