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03/24/12 5:00 PM ET

Matheny feels no pressure to retain Komatsu

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Matheny has given himself a good look at Rule 5 Draft pickup Erik Komatsu in the outfield this spring. Komatsu has appeared in 17 of the Cards' 20 Grapefruit League games, including Saturday's start against the Mets.

The Cards must keep Komatsu on their 25-man roster or disabled list throughout the season in order to retain control of him, or else he must be offered back to the Nationals.

Komatsu has made a nice impression on the Cards' coaching staff, as he took a .306 average (11-for-36) into Saturday. But Matheny said he's under no pressure from the higher-ups to keep Komatsu simply to retain his rights.

"I talked to [general manager John Mozeliak] early on about that," Matheny said. "I wanted to make sure what I was getting into here, if it was something we were going to be hemmed in and hand-tied. Mo was very clear that we just want the best team. The organization completely supports that. You have a lot of talented scouts out there and people watching for someone that might come in and potentially fit.

"With that being said, he's certainly proved our scouts to be right. But it's not a situation that we're obligated to if it's not what's best for this team and for us to win."

Craig could start season as pinch-hitter

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Matheny had to pause for a moment during his morning chat with reporters, because what he was seeing from Allen Craig in the batting cage caught his eye.

"Man," Matheny said, "he's coming unglued."

This was, in case you're wondering, a positive term in this particular use, as Craig, less than four months removed from knee surgery, was belting balls all over the field and over the wall.

And it is offensive displays such as this one that have the Cards considering breaking camp with Craig on the 25-man roster, even if his body is not yet ready for the wear and tear of position play. Craig could latch on as a pinch-hitter initially, gradually building up his ability to play right field and first base.

"You've got to weigh what would be the value of just having him there being able to pinch-hit," Matheny said. "If that value will make our team better and we can cover not having him there, we just have to weigh those options."

Craig made the trip north to take batting practice with the big league club and then took part in a Minor League game in the back fields at the Mets' complex. The Cards are pleased with his progress, though he's still building up a tolerance for running the bases and playing the field, and there has been no timetable announced for when he'll appear in a Grapefruit League game. Matheny said Craig would likely make his first exhibition appearance as a pinch-hitter in a home game, when the Cards have access to more Minor League bodies who could then take over as a pinch-runner for him.

"He's got hurdles to still get past as far as being able to run the bases," Matheny said.

But the swing has come along wonderfully, as Craig demonstrated Saturday morning. As Matheny spoke, Craig belted a blast over the wall in left-center field.

"Nothing wrong with that one, huh?" Matheny marveled.

Furcal still finding his swing

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rafael Furcal was a bit behind in his conditioning when he reported to Cardinals camp after having an emergency appendectomy performed in December, and he's a bit behind in terms of the results he'd like to see at the plate.

Furcal entered Saturday's game against the Mets with a .188 average (6-for-32) in spring play, with one home run.

"I think he's a little frustrated," manager Mike Matheny said. "Defensively, he looks good to me. But I think he's a little frustrated right now [at the plate]. We always talk about how it's only Spring Training, but if you're that guy not getting hits, you'd do anything to be that guy who the hits are falling in for. I think he's just trying to figure it out. He's still got plenty of time to get it right."

Asked how many games he foresees at shortstop for Furcal, who has played fewer than 100 games in three of the last four seasons, Matheny didn't want to go there.

"I'm going to use Lance [Berkman] as an example of how not to answer that question, because everybody thought a year ago if you get 100 games out of this guy, you're going to be doing really well," Matheny said. "We've got some people on our medical staff that have been able to help the guys who really want to get after it. So I'm not going to put a limit on any of them."

Worth noting

• Lance Lynn, who will occupy the rotation spot vacated by an injured Chris Carpenter, did not have his most efficient of outings Saturday against the Mets, using up his 75-pitch count in 4 2/3 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits with two walks and a strikeout. Part of the problem, though, was the error Tyler Greene committed on what would have been an inning-ending double play in the first. With the inning extended, Lynn served up a three-run homer to Ike Davis. "Guys haven't really grown accustomed, at this point in the spring, to gathering themselves after they're potentially out of an inning and getting their mind right again," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's hard to replicate that, except getting in those situations."

• Lance Berkman took a pitch off his right knee in the third inning Saturday, but remained in the game.

• Matt Holliday and David Freese were given scheduled days off Saturday and therefore didn't make the road trip to Port St. Lucie, Fla. It marked the first time this spring that Freese has sat out back-to-back games. "I think, in general, we've been pushing the guys pretty good," manager Mike Matheny said. "You look at their overall innings, overall at-bats, they've been going at it pretty good."

• As expected, the Cards did not have any additional information on Chris Carpenter's timetable, one day after announcing he is out "indefinitely" because of a nerve condition. But Carpenter is expected to be back in Jupiter on Monday after traveling to St. Louis earlier this week to see a specialist.

• Mets owner Fred Wilpon paid a visit to the Cardinals' clubhouse after Saturday's game to introduce himself to Matheny.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.