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09/22/11 9:47 PM ET

Wainwright makes progress in throwing program

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright had some good news Thursday morning as he took another step forward in his rehabilitation from the season-ending surgery on his throwing elbow.

Wainwright tossed the equivalent of two innings in the bullpen.

"This was my third throwing session off the mound [to a crouched catcher]," he said. "The first two times we did one set of 30. This one we're kind of progressing, now we're doing two sets of 20. So the up-down, but you're also adding some throws in there."

It is certainly another positive step forward for Wainwright, who turned 30 on Aug. 31.

"Every time I get used to doing something, we increase the volume or we start doing something new," he said. "So it adds that shock to your body. So I got really used to throwing at 150 feet, really comfortable with that, and then got on the mound and I threw and I was a little bit sore. The next time I threw, I was starting to feel pretty good and it was easy, so now we increased the volume. So I'll probably be a little bit sore tomorrow. Then I'll get used to that and we'll change it up again."

Wainwright said he only threw fastballs on Thursday, but one of the next steps in his rehabilitation process will be to throw changeups.

"My understanding is in a couple weeks, we'll start throwing some changeups," he said. "Unless we start carrying this thing deep into October, I think we're going to hold off on the breaking balls until January. I'm going to try to talk them into a few before we leave, but it's really my job to follow what they tell me to do. If they see my arm is able to make some steps, progressions, then that's what we'll do."

Wainwright said he will take off November and December, as he would in a normal offseason, and then resume his throwing program in January.

For now, the righty, who won 39 games over the past two seasons, has to sit back and watch his teammates and the rest of the starting rotation fight it out with the Braves down the final stretch of the National League Wild Card race.

"I came in yesterday and I looked at Carp, [and yelled], 'And I can't even throw a pitch!' But it's been fun to watch," Wainwright said.

Cards strengthen future with Berkman extension

ST. LOUIS -- There was a buzz at Busch Stadium on Thursday morning as the news broke that the Cardinals had signed outfielder Lance Berkman to a one-year extension for the 2012 season.

"It's a very good day," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's a very good day for next year. We're concentrating on today and this year."

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who signed a two-year extension earlier this month, was pleased to hear the news.

"That's exciting, obviously," Carpenter said. "He's been a big part of this club this year and I'm glad it could get done."

The Berkman extension continued a recent trend of the Cardinals positioning themselves for 2012, and in some cases, beyond.

"Obviously I can speak for myself, I'm excited for me being able to get done and being able to come back," Carpenter said. "There are key parts to this ballclub that need to be back and Lance was one of them and I'm excited about that."

Right-hander Adam Wainwright echoed Carpenter's sentiments.

"If you look at the core of the team, we're going to be very dangerous next year," Wainwright said. "The key again is going to be everybody staying healthy, and whether No. 5 [Albert Pujols] is going to be back. Hopefully we he will be. We've got some good players to surround him with. Should he come back, we're going to be incredibly tough. Got to stay healthy. Got to keep the Clydesdales in the starting rotation healthy."

The Cardinals intend to pick up the two-year option on the contract of Wainwright, who missed this season after suffering an arm injury Spring Training. That deal, along with contract extensions for Carpenter and lefty Jaime Garcia, help solidify St. Louis's rotation going forward.

Those kinds of deals made it easier for Berkman to sign on for 2012.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the situation here and know that there are four or five things that need addressing," Berkman said. "Albert. I think [Yadier Molina's] got an option. Carp's already been addressed. Wainwright had an option that was addressed. So there were a lot of things going on that the organization had to deal with. I think after looking at that situation and analyzing, all right, if I really do want to be here, what is something that I can offer the Cardinals that would make it attractive to them for me to stay?"

Holliday takes swings in batting cage

ST. LOUIS -- Another day, another small step forward for injured Cardinals left field Matt Holliday.

Holliday, who is out after experiencing inflammation in his right middle finger in a game in Pittsburgh last week, took some swings off a tee on Tuesday, took more swings and also threw on Wednesday and on Thursday morning spent time in the indoor batting cage taking swings.

There hasn't been a Holliday update from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa since prior to Wednesday's game, when he said Holliday would miss the final two games against the Mets.

But the progress brings the Cardinals left fielder closer to returning at some point over the final two series against the Cubs and Astros.

Rookie Robinson kept on his toes with prank

ST. LOUIS -- It seemed like there was a fire in the Cardinals' dugout early in the Mets' 8-6 come-from-behind victory on Thursday.

It turns out, according to outfielder Corey Patterson, that rookie outfielder and September callup Shane Robinson was the victim of the old-fashioned hot foot prank by his teammates.

Patterson stomped out the fire and apparently no rookies were harmed.

"You have to have a few guys watching in case it gets out of hand," Patterson said.

Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.