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09/09/08 8:10 PM ET

Cards activate Barton from disabled list

Outfielder likely limited to pinch-running until fully healthy

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals activated outfielder Brian Barton from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, the first day the rookie was eligible to return to active duty. Barton had been sidelined due to a strained right oblique muscle.

Barton, however, is still limited in what he is able to do on the field. Manager Tony La Russa said that Barton will likely not hit for the time being. Barton can run, so he may be used exclusively as a pinch-runner in the short term.

"I think he would just be used to run," La Russa said. "He is cleared for that."

When Barton arrived at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, it was not yet determined whether he would be activated. Following pregame activities, however, he was cleared for limited action.

When Barton is able to participate fully, it will be a boost for the Cardinals, who do not have an obvious starter in center field against left-handed pitching. Joe Mather is out for the year, Skip Schumaker has struggled against lefties and Rick Ankiel is limited to part-time duty due to an abdominal strain. La Russa prefers not to use Ryan Ludwick in center at this point in the season, given that Ludwick is reaching career highs in playing time.

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