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09/07/09 2:17 PM ET

DeRosa rests but is improving

Infielder practices before Monday's game vs. Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Mark DeRosa continues to feel some soreness in his back, but acknowledged on Monday that, if needed, he could play.

DeRosa missed a third consecutive game on Monday, a result of back discomfort he felt over the weekend in Pittsburgh. It's an echo of an almost identical experience he had the last time the Cardinals played in the Steel City. He attributes it to the beds in the team hotel in Pittsburgh.

"I don't know what it is," he said, "but the last two times we've been there, it's locked up."

Still, DeRosa is doing plenty and isn't far from playing. He took batting practice and infield practice on Monday. Troy Glaus started in his place against Milwaukee in the opener of a three-game series.

"He's better," manager Tony La Russa said. "Much better. I think he's probably going to be OK to play pretty soon, whatever that means. He's definitely better."

The Cardinals' healthy division lead allows them to be patient with DeRosa.

"I'll put it this way: If the situation was different, I would be playing," DeRosa said.

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