ST. LOUIS -- Rafael Furcal was unavailable for the Cardinals' game Wednesday after having an epidural, an anti-inflammatory injection, to address continued stiffness in the shortstop's lower back. General manager John Mozeliak said the club is optimistic Furcal will be cleared to return to the field in Thursday's series finale.
Furcal has been limited by back stiffness for nearly two weeks. He sat out five games when the stiffness was at its worst and has started four of the team's six games since. This back pain has also led to periodic episodes of a tingling sensation in Furcal's leg.
Mozeliak described Furcal as having hit a plateau in his rehab work to alleviate the stiffness altogether, which is why the decision was made to gain relief by having an injection.
Furcal has not been on the disabled list this season, but back ailments have sidelined him in the past. Surgery on his lower back cost Furcal more than half of the 2008 season. In 2010, he missed a month due to a lower back strain.
Craig's chest pain diagnosed as bone bruise
ST. LOUIS -- Allen Craig confirmed Wednesday that an incident in a July 13 loss against the Reds has triggered periodic chest pain since that date. On Wednesday, though, that pain was especially severe, prompting the Cardinals to send Craig off for additional medical tests.
X-rays came back negative, though the Cardinals still chose not to start Craig in Wednesday's game against the Giants.
"I've been working through it, but I woke up today and it was pretty sore," Craig said. "I hit the concrete pretty hard in Cincinnati and it's been a little sore here and there. Today was the worst of it, unfortunately. That's how things go."
The discomfort is related to a collision Craig had with the railing along the first-base line while pursuing a foul ball in a July series at Great American Ball Park. Craig hardly slowed as he neared the tarp, and, while trying to make the catch, he hit his chest on the top of the railing as he fell toward the stands.
Afterward, he described the impact.
"I thought I had a bead on it and then the wind took it," Craig said that night. "It didn't feel good."
Both Craig and general manager John Mozeliak cautioned against panic, both expressing optimism that Craig would be in the starting lineup Thursday. Craig was available to pinch-hit Wednesday, though the Cardinals did not use him in their 15-0 loss to the Giants.
Craig, who has been diagnosed with a bone bruise, could not pinpoint why the discomfort increased so much Wednesday.
"I wish I had a better answer for you guys," he said. "Sometimes you wake up and you just don't feel good for some reason."
With Lance Berkman on the disabled list, Craig has taken over as the team's regular first baseman. He hit a pair of home runs in Tuesday's loss and is batting .298 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 69 games. Two unrelated injuries landed Craig on the disabled list earlier in the season.
Sore wrist keeps Schumaker out of lineup
ST. LOUIS -- A day after being hit on the left wrist by a pitch, Skip Schumaker walked around the clubhouse with that wrist heavily wrapped in an ace bandage. That wrist is still sore, Schumaker said, but not so much so that it would limit him to sitting on the bench all night.
"It's fine," Schumaker said. "I'll be available if they need me."
Schumaker was not in Wednesday's starting lineup but was at least available to manager Mike Matheny for a pinch-hit role. That's particularly crucial given that Rafael Furcal (back stiffness) and Allen Craig (rib bruise) also are both dealing with ailments.
With Schumaker unavailable to start at second base, Tyler Greene drew the assignment. Since June 1, Greene has started just 15 games. He is batting .222 on the season.
Berkman feeling soreness in left knee
ST. LOUIS -- On the disabled list because of inflammation in his right knee, Lance Berkman is now also experiencing discomfort in his left knee. Recent tests done on that knee came back negative, but the complications are the latest reminder that Berkman's opportunity to contribute in 2012 will likely be limited.
"It's just one of those uphill battles he's had," manager Mike Matheny said. "Hopefully we can get him strengthened to where he can get back into baseball shape. The guy can't catch a break here."
Berkman's third stint on the DL this season began Aug. 3, after his surgically repaired right knee gave out on him during an at-bat the night before.
Though Berkman's left knee has given him issues in the past, it had not, until now, been a bother to him this year. Berkman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in March 2010.
The Cardinals do not know how long the overall rehab process will take Berkman, though general manager John Mozeliak said that he "would speculate that right now [Berkman] is still a couple of weeks away."
Mozeliak also said the Cardinals will likely have Berkman take some Minor League at-bats before rejoining the big league club. Berkman did not go out on a rehab assignment when he returned after a near two-month layoff from right knee surgery.
"All along," Mozeliak said, "we knew those knees were tricky."
Berkman has played in just 28 games this season. Since his rookie season, Berkman has never appeared in fewer than 122 in a year.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia will make his third Minor League rehab start Thursday, when he takes the mound in San Antonio for Double-A Springfield. He is expected to throw about 80-85 pitches.
Mozeliak said Wednesday that he anticipates Garcia will make an additional rehab appearance next week before being plugged back into the Cardinals' rotation. Said Mozeliak: "Clearly, when we bring him back, we want him to be ready to go and pitch a full game."
Garcia allowed one run on two hits in a 64-pitch, 4 1/3-inning start for Springfield last Saturday.
Five members of the Cardinals' short-season Batavia (N.Y.) affiliate have been named to the New York-Penn League All-Star team. Those players include infielders Patrick Wisdom and Breyvic Valera; catcher Jesus Montero; and pitchers Lee Stoppelman and Tyler Melling.
Wisdom and Stoppelman are both members of the Cardinals' 2012 Draft class. Wisdom was a supplemental selection taken between the first and second rounds. Stoppelman was drafted with the organization's 24th-round pick.
The Cardinals released former second-round Draft pick Josh Wilson after he made one Gulf Coast League appearance. Wilson, who was drafted in 2005, was attempting a comeback after stepping away because of nagging shoulder injuries. He did not pitch in 2010 or 2011.
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.