3/14/2013 1:18 P.M. ET
Matheny returns to dugout after back surgery
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny was back in uniform on Thursday, three days after he underwent surgery to alleviate pain and numbness being caused by a ruptured disc in his lower back.
Matheny said he does not expect to miss any more of the club's spring games, though he has been told to limit his activities and exertion. Matheny has been told not to lift anything that weighs more than five pounds, and he is precluded from throwing batting practice.
"They've been trying to scare me the last couple of days about how easy I have to take it for the next eight weeks that would help the chances of not having to do anything else," Matheny said. "I'm going to go pretty easy here for a while."
It will benefit him, too, that the Cardinals don't have to travel for a Grapefruit League game for another week. That means that Matheny can avoid bus rides for a while longer.
During Monday's surgery, which lasted about 90 minutes, the surgeon found and removed four disc fragments that were putting pressure against a nerve. If all goes as expected with the recovery, Matheny will not need to undergo any additional procedures.
"I was impressed with how much better I felt right away, but I still have a long way to go," Matheny said. "As much as I was going to try to put it off, it wasn't going to get better on its own. It had to be taken care of."
While he was absent, Matheny watched Monday's game on television and listened to Tuesday's game on the radio. He traveled back to Jupiter on Wednesday, which was an off-day for the team. In his place, bench coach Mike Aldrete stepped in as acting manager.
"I felt like I bailed on them," Matheny said. "I was able to follow them pretty close, but it's not quite the same, especially as we get to this point where we're getting some of our last looks on some of these guys."
Wacha among Cards reassigned to Minors camp
JUPITER, Fla. -- After closing out the Cardinals' 5-4 win with two shutout innings, right-hander Michael Wacha was summoned into manager Mike Matheny's office, where he was told he was being reassigned to Minor League camp.
The Cardinals plan to officially announce the roster move on Friday, along with others. Victor Marte and Eduardo Sanchez were also emptying their lockers in the clubhouse after Thursday's game. Both will be optioned to Triple-A. "It was unbelievable," Wacha said of the Spring Training experience. "I wasn't really expecting to get an invite [to Major League camp]. I just looked at it as an opportunity to come and show what I had and hopefully open up some eyes. Hopefully I did that."
For Wacha, he leaves having left a huge impression in his first big league camp. After being selected No. 19 overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and pitching 21 innings in the Minors, Wacha pitched so well this spring that many wondered if he could pitch his way into the conversation for a Major League roster spot.
One of the biggest compliments he received during his stay came from All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who, on Feb. 27, said, "I think that guy, right now, can pitch in the big league. That's the way I look at it. He has great stuff. He has a great presence on the mound."
Instead, Wacha will start the year in either the Double-A or Triple-A rotation.
"I'm just going to go down there and keep on pitching the way I have, and hopefully I'm not down there for too long," Wacha said. "I have to go down there and establish myself and show that I can turn over innings and turn over lineups. Hopefully I can do that quickly."
Wacha finishes the spring having allowed one unearned run on seven hits in 11 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out 15.
Rzepczynski throws another bullpen session
JUPITER, Fla. -- Lefty Marc Rzepczynski threw another bullpen session on Thursday, this time with almost full vision in his left eye.
Rzepczynski, who suffered an eye injury while golfing last Friday, was told by an eye doctor on Wednesday that 95 percent of the eye inflammation was gone. At the time of the appointment, Rzepczynski was still dealing with some blurriness. Within a few hours, though, Rzepczynski's eyesight was nearly back to normal.
"It was a complete 180," Rzepczynski said. "I couldn't read Waino's jersey [which hangs a few lockers away] yesterday. I could see it perfectly clear today. As of right now, I'm feeling like I'll be ready to be cleared tomorrow and ready to go this weekend. "
That clearance will have to come from the eye doctor, who Rzepczynski is scheduled to visit again on Friday morning. For the first time since the incident, though, he was able to join his teammates for a full workout on Thursday. Manager Mike Matheny said the club is optimistic that Rzepczynski will be ready for game action in "a day or so."
Rzepczynski said that he does not anticipate adding glasses as an accessory this season. Once the inflammation in his eye goes away, he will resume wearing contacts.
• Rafael Furcal underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in the shortstop's right elbow. Furcal has not said whether he will remain with the team all season as he goes through his rehab.
• Both Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter will start playing positions other than second base with more frequency over the final two weeks of Grapefruit League play. Descalso will log time at short and third base. Carpenter will get work at both the corner infield and corner outfield spots.
• Matt Holliday returned to the lineup on Thursday after an eight-day absence due to a stomach virus. He played five innings in left field and went 0-for-2 with a walk.
• Former Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds has joined Fox Sports Midwest as an analyst for the Cardinals' pre- and post-game shows on the channel. Edmonds takes the position vacated by Cal Eldred, who is now a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.