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03/26/08 7:23 PM ET

Gonzalez's bid for roster over for now

Cardinals place slugger on temporarily inactive list with injury

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals placed Juan Gonzalez on the temporarily inactive list on Wednesday, officially ending his bid to make the team this spring but keeping open the possibility he might come back at a later date.

Gonzalez has not played since March 10 due to an abdominal strain. After starting out the spring swinging a hot bat as a designated hitter, he sustained the injury right about the time he played his first game in the outfield. The condition has not healed nearly as quickly as hoped.

"We're going to keep the door open for him," general manager John Mozeliak said on Wednesday. "We'll ... place him on the TI list, and he'll head back to Puerto Rico. When he's feeling ready to play, if he so desires, then we'll revisit maybe having him come to [extended Spring Training]. If you put him on that list, it allows for an open-door policy, and it doesn't lead to any negativity."

The longer Gonzalez was shelved, the clearer it became that he had no chance of competing for an Opening Day roster spot. However, manager Tony La Russa was enamored with Gonzalez's approach to camp and remains intrigued by what a healthy Gonzalez might bring to the Cardinals.

So if he returns to health while at home in Puerto Rico, he has the option of returning to the Cardinals' camp and beginning work once again.

"I told him he made a really good impression, and I'm disappointed because I think he could have provided something special to our club," La Russa said. "He needs to get healthy, get the problem fixed."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.