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06/28/10 8:05 PM ET

Penny returns to mound activity

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny threw off the mound Monday for the first time since being sidelined May 21 with a right lat strain.

The right-hander pitched from the bullpen for about 20 minutes, tossing from both the windup and stretch.

"I think it went pretty well," manager Tony La Russa said. "Now you take the next step."

It is unlikely Penny would be available to pitch before the All-Star break in two weeks, La Russa said.

Ludwick available in a pinch

ST. LOUIS -- Although Ryan Ludwick will likely not see the field for the next few games, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa did pencil in the right fielder as an available bench player for Monday's series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

La Russa said the tightness in Ludwick's left calf had improved. As for the veteran's chance of pinch-hitting Monday?

"He is better. He is available, but we will try to avoid it," La Russa said.

The Cardinals skipper said he expects Ludwick to play in the field before the seven-game homestand was finished.

La Russa also said third basemen David Freese was not be available Monday, sidelined with a sore ankle.

Iraq veteran Greitens representing Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Although Major League Baseball All-Star balloting is still several days away from coming to a close, the St. Louis Cardinals know of at least one All-Star for this season.

Eric Greitens, a veteran of Iraq, will represent the Cardinals as the fans' selection for the "All-Stars Among Us Campaign," an honor for local individuals "serving their community in extraordinary ways."

Wounded in Iraq, Greitens still managed to co-found "The Mission Continues" upon his return to the United States, a charity to help wounded veterans stay active in their community.

Greitens and the other All-Stars Among Us will be honored in a pregame ceremony before the All-Star Game on July 13.

Baby Birds

ST. LOUIS -- The Triple-A Memphis Redbirds brought along their bats in a 15-3 smashing of Albuquerque on Sunday. Former big league callups Jon Jay and Allen Craig each finished 3-for-5 on the day, with Jay collecting four RBIs and Craig bashing two home runs. Joe Mather chipped in a long ball as well and Tyler Greene pushed his hitting streak to 10 games. Evan MacLane picked up the win with seven innings pitched and two earned runs allowed. ... Double-A Springfield had its game postponed due to rain. Tony Cruz still carries an 11-game hitting streak. ... Pitcher Kevin Thomas starred for Class A Palm Beach, tossing six shutout innings and giving up two hits in a 3-0 win. ... Class A Quad Cities went 16 innings on Sunday in a five-hour, 22-minute contest. Niko Vasquez walked in the winning run in the 16th and smashed a homer in the eighth frame to send the game into extra innings.

Worth noting

ST. LOUIS -- Mired in a 1-for-33 slump over the past 11 games, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina could be seen taking extra batting practice on Monday. ... Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa confirmed Blake Hawksworth would receive the start on Thursday in the series opener against the Brewers. ... With recent callup Adam Ottavino pitching 4 1/3 innings in relief on Sunday against the Royals, La Russa said it would be at least three days before Ottavino would be available to pitch again.

Michael Bleach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.