ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals held a short afternoon workout at Busch Stadium on Thursday, during which left fielder Matt Holliday took batting practice for the first time since suffering a right hamstring injury last Thursday.
Holliday stayed in St. Louis over the All-Star break to receive treatment, and Thursday's session was another step forward in his rehab. He has tested the hamstring with some light running, but would have to prove to the Cardinals he can run at full speed before manager Mike Matheny will insert him into the lineup.
Asked about the prospect of playing in Friday's second-half opener at home against the Padres, Holliday answered: "We'll see."
Regardless, Holliday's improvement thus far would suggest he will be able to avoid the disabled list. The Cardinals were hopeful that three days off in Chicago, coupled with the four-day All-Star break, would provide enough downtime for Holliday to heal.
Holliday is batting .268 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs.
Cardinals unlikely to make big deal before deadline
ST. LOUIS -- Without getting into specifics about the club's pursuits as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, general manager John Mozeliak suggested on Thursday the Cardinals are unlikely to make any blockbuster-type deal between now and the end of the month.
"For me to sit here today and tell you specifically what we might try to add just doesn't make a lot of sense," Mozeliak said after the Cardinals' workout at Busch Stadium. "It's not a great market to be shopping in for our particular needs. And there is no glaring weakness now. It's just seeing if there is an incremental benefit that might make us stronger for a last push."
Adding to an offense that leads the league in several statistical categories is not among the priorities. The Cardinals see little opportunity to upgrade over the pieces already in place, and that includes shortstop, where the priority continues to be strong defensive play over any potency with the bat, as Daniel Descalso is hitting .275 with three homers and Pete Kozma is at .233 with one homer.
If the Cardinals are to add, it will likely be on the pitching side. In talking about the rotation, Mozeliak expressed satisfaction in the current starting core of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller. Joe Kelly, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha remain second-half rotation options, and Chris Carpenter -- who will make his second rehab start on Saturday -- remains a wild card in all of this.
"I think when you look at our rotation right now, it's hard to imagine any major change in what we're having," Mozeliak said. "I think we have to do our best to protect the younger arms, and I think we're going to space that out pretty well between now and September. But as far as feeling comfortable giving those guys the ball every fifth or sixth day, I think we're strong."
Though the bullpen has stabilized since April, the lack of experience is an area in which the Cardinals may look to improve. Each of the last two seasons, Mozeliak made key Trade Deadline deals to add an experienced reliever. That could be even more crucial this year, as the Cardinals currently have four rookie relievers in the 'pen.
Asked about pursuing a veteran reliever, Mozeliak said, "I think if we found the right piece, we'd pursue it."
Of course, any action comes at a cost, and the Cardinals do not see themselves as having such glaring holes that they would need to be desperate buyers. As a result, the organization is not interested in parting with its top Minor League prospects for a short-term fix.
"I think for us right now, we've left that very wide in terms of what we might chase," Mozeliak said. "Having said that, it starts to become what the ask might be and how we fulfill those. When I think about the next couple weeks, I think it's about us staying open-minded and us seeing how the market evolves."
Reliever Salas recalled to fill vacant roster spot
ST. LOUIS -- After sending Keith Butler down to Triple-A on Monday so the young righty could get more consistent work, the Cardinals had a spot on their 25-man roster. It will be filled by Fernando Salas.
Salas participated in Thursday's workout at Busch Stadium and will be officially added back onto the big league club before Friday's series opener against the Padres. Salas last pitched for the Cardinals on May 20. He went on the disabled list with right shoulder irritation the next day.
The right-hander began a rehab assignment in Triple-A on June 21 and remained in Memphis when he was taken off the disabled list. In 11 appearances, Salas allowed seven hits and four runs (one earned) in 11 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 and only just one. He recorded a save in four of his last five appearances.
"I feel good," Salas said on Thursday. "I feel different, because there is no pain and I'm more relaxed. I feel different. I am more confident in my pitches. There is no pain, so I can be more aggressive in the zone."
With Salas set to be added, the Cardinals will enter this weekend series with eight relievers. The Cardinals have the extra arm in the 'pen since they won't need a fifth starter until later this month.
As for sending out Butler, who allowed five hits and three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings during his big league stay, the Cardinals' biggest motivating factor was needing to find a way for him to pitch regularly. Butler had pitched just twice since June 25.
"It just wasn't fair to him," manager Mike Matheny said. "We could barely get him in. If we thought he was a player who wasn't going to be around the league for a while, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal. We think he can be a very good pitcher, and he was not improving by how we were using him."
Carpenter to make second rehab start
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter's rehab assignment will next take him to Memphis, where on Saturday, the 38-year-old will start for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate.
The start will be Carpenter's second since starting his rehab stint. On Monday, Carpenter threw 54 pitches (38 strikes) in a 2 2/3-inning start for Double-A Springfield. He allowed six hits, three runs (two earned) and struck out five.
Manager Mike Matheny said Carpenter should push himself to a pitch count of about 75-80 in the upcoming start.
"I heard his stuff looked real good," Matheny said of Carpenter's appearance earlier this week. "He and I talked also, and he was real happy with things. You look, velocity was there, and how he felt physically, I think those are really good tests in measuring how good the outing was for him."
Carpenter can remain on a rehab assignment a maximum of 30 days, which would take him to Aug. 13. How he continues to progress and what the Cardinals' needs are on the Major League roster will dictate how long Carpenter remains in the Minors. General manager John Mozeliak equated Carpenter's rehab assignment to the build-up process that pitchers go through during Spring Training.
• Wacha was named the Pacific Coast League's Top Star in Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game. Though the PCL fell to the International League, 4-3, Wacha retired all five batters he faced in his relief appearance. He induced four groundouts and threw 13 of his 22 pitches for strikes. Memphis first baseman Brock Peterson, who finished as the runner-up in the Triple-A Home Run Derby, singled and drove in a run in the game.
• Mozeliak said the Cardinals have about 7-10 days before they have to get Carlos Martinez back into a starting rotation so he can stay stretched out. In the interim, Martinez will continue to occupy a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen. Since the Cardinals won't need a fifth starter until July 27, they have not officially settled on who that will be. If it's not Martinez, the 21-year-old rookie will likely be sent down to Triple-A to start.
• On Wednesday, the Cardinals learned they will receive an extra pick in next summer's First-Year Player Draft because of the results of the Competitive Balance Lottery. The 10 smallest-market teams, the 10 lowest-revenue teams and any team to receive revenue sharing this past year were placed into the lottery. Fourteen teams fell into one of those three groups. The odds of being picked were based on the reverse of last year's winning percentage.
The Cardinals were selected third in the second round of the lottery, meaning they land an extra selection between the second and third rounds of the 2014 Draft. This June, that same pick fell 71st in the Draft and added $782,900 to that team's pool of Draft money.
• The Cardinals announced they will hold Jewish Community Night at Busch Stadium on Aug. 8. With the purchase of a theme night ticket, fans will receive a Jewish Community Night Cardinals shirt. Jewish-rock recording artist Rick Recht will perform during a pregame concert in the Ford Plaza. Recht will also join the Jewish Community Night choir to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." For more details or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/theme.
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.