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08/09/11 8:49 PM ET

La Russa denies reports of 'head games'

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Tony La Russa took issue on Tuesday with the notion that he plays "head games" with opponents. Addressing reporters prior to the start of his team's series against the Brewers, he argued that such a characterization is inaccurate.

"I think the opposite is the reputation I've established," La Russa said. "I've had a number of times to play that -- tricks and [cheap shots] -- and we don't ever get into it. I trust our players, and I have for a long time.

"I trust our players. Somebody has an issue, whether it's [saying that] the balls are slick in Cincinnati or whatever, and it's guys like John Smoltz and Chris Carpenter, I don't say, 'You've got to be kidding me. Who are you to complain?' When you've established what they've established ... I trust our players. If you trust your players, you're responsible for following through with it. That's what I do. But the people who know me, I shy away from that stuff, because the game is supposed to be played between the white lines, so you try to avoid it at all costs."

He also disputed the idea that heated exchanges necessarily result from a closely contested pennant race.

"I think it's just the nature of, if you look around, the nature of the game," he said. "If both clubs are competing, it doesn't have to be, but once in a while, you have some sparks. And you can have two clubs that are having a tough year. You can have a club that's having a good year and [one having] a tough year. I think the whole key is just a competition. If both sides care, they always believe their side of it, you know?"

Freese returns to Cardinals' lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Pronouncing himself fully recovered from a recent concussion, David Freese returned to the Cardinals' lineup on Tuesday. Freese had not played since Thursday, when he was hit in the head by a pitch from Florida's Clay Hensley.

"I feel 100 percent," Freese said. "I felt pretty good a couple of days after, and then I had a couple more days after that just to get everything together. I had a couple of workouts since it happened, and everything's normal."

Freese explained that the last major test for him came on Sunday, when he ran extensively at Sun Life Stadium. Manager Tony La Russa said that he will watch Freese closely but does not expect to have to use him sparingly.

Freese has been one of the Cardinals' leading hitters this year, batting .320 with a .368 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage. He previously missed nearly two months because of a broken bone in his left hand.

Craig may be added to roster on Wednesday

ST. LOUIS -- Allen Craig came through an afternoon workout in fine shape on Tuesday, and the infielder-outfielder is likely to be added to the active roster prior to Wednesday's game against Milwaukee.

Craig has not played in a Major League game since June 7, when he fractured his right kneecap during a game in Houston. He played in 10 games at Triple-A Memphis on a Minor League rehab assignment, batting .286 with a .359 on-base percentage and .486 slugging percentage. He came on particularly strong recently, amassing four hits, five runs, a triple and a homer over his past two games.

Prior to Tuesday's game, he underwent a full workout at Busch Stadium to ensure that he was ready to play.

"I got here and did my usual leg routine in the gym, and went out there and played catch, took fly balls, ran the bases, took ground balls, took batting practice," Craig said. "It was a full day. I'm feeling fine."

Manager Tony La Russa was pleased with how Craig came through the activity. He stopped short of committing to adding Craig to the roster for Wednesday's game but certainly sounded as though it's likely.

"I think he passed [the test]," La Russa said.

Cardinals adjust rotation, push back Lohse

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have adjusted their rotation, using Monday's off-day to push Kyle Lohse back two extra days before his next start. Jake Westbrook will pitch on Wednesday against Milwaukee on his regular four days' rest, followed by Chris Carpenter on Thursday, also on four days. Lohse will then go in Friday's series opener against Colorado, pitching on seven days' rest.

Lohse's numbers have taken a downturn in recent weeks, and he has not completed six innings since going 6 2/3 on July 8, against Arizona. He was recently bothered by discomfort in his right middle finger but emphasized that he's not having issues with the finger.

"It doesn't affect my pitches," Lohse said. "I'm not even getting treatment anymore. So that tells you it's not bothering me."

Still, manager Tony La Russa acknowledged that he frequently checks in with Lohse, making sure the right-hander isn't physically compromised. He's hoping, whether the injury is a factor or not, that the time off benefits his pitcher.

"I don't think it would be a bad time to give him an extra few days," La Russa said. "But he's saying he's good physically."

Though Lohse expressed no displeasure with the decision to push him back, he also made it clear that he feels that he's not very far from his early-season form.

"I'm going to do whatever they want me to do," he said. "Whenever they want me to pitch, for however long they want me to pitch, whatever role they want me to pitch in, the bottom line is, we need to win games. I'm behind these guys who are playing today. It's not about me, how long I pitch or anything that I do. I mean, it is -- I need to go out there and help us win, but all the other stuff is out of my control until I get the ball out on the mound.

"I'm going to be as prepared as I can be. I've done enough the last two years where I've pitched wondering what is going on with my arm. That doesn't help the team. I've learned not to take the ball if I can't go out and help the team.

"Like I said, in my last three starts, they borderline could have been good. But I'm not happy going five innings. I don't feel like I'm doing my job when I go five innings. But I can only take the ball as long as I can."


• Yadier Molina will return to the active roster on Wednesday, as Tuesday marked the final game of his five-game suspension for his actions last Tuesday in Milwaukee.

• Left-hander Tyler Lyons threw the first no-hitter in franchise history for Class A Palm Beach on Monday. Lyons, 23, pitched seven shutout innings, allowing one walk and striking out eight against Fort Myers.

• Manager Tony La Russa said on Tuesday that Jon Jay, who has been slumping, will likely be held out of the starting lineup again on Wednesday after sitting on Tuesday. Corey Patterson got the start in Jay's place on Tuesday.

• Triple-A Memphis right-hander Brandon Dickson was named the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the week on Tuesday.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.