4/7/2014 9:46 P.M. ET
Ellis improving, but taking time in recovery
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Though Mark Ellis said he feels things are "definitely going in the right direction" with his injured left knee, the Cardinals' infielder is not expected to come off the disabled list on Friday, his earliest date of eligibility.
After sitting on the bench during the club's season opener in Cincinnati, Ellis returned to St. Louis, where he has been continuing to rehab and receive treatment to relieve the soreness brought on by left patella tendinitis. He had not resumed baseball activities until Monday, when Ellis took pregame swings in the batting cage.
"I had never had this before, so I had no expectations on how it would go," Ellis said. "I figured it would get better just from staying off of it and doing things to make it get better. But it's gone well. It's gone really well."
Ellis said he has been able to gauge improvement just through the increasing ease of completing everyday activities, like going up and down stairs. Movements that were painful when he first injured the knee in mid-March and then re-aggravated it during the final week of Spring Training are no longer so.
"Now that stuff is gone," Ellis said. "We're getting the soreness out of there. I guess there is a little bit of fluid in there, getting that out, too. I'm just taking this time, realizing that it's got to get better."
Ellis is expected to go out to one of the organization's affiliates before coming off the DL, though the Cardinals have not yet determined a start date for that Minor League rehab assignment. Because of time missed during Spring Training, Ellis can use the assignment to make up for some of those missed at-bats.
"The reports we get every day are very positive," manager Mike Matheny said. "Talking to him today, he said he feels real good. But as far as next step, we haven't talked with the training staff about that yet."
Rain can't dampen home opener festivities
ST. LOUIS -- Rain cancelled an appearance by the famed Budweiser Clydesdales, but the Cardinals' home opener festivities otherwise went on as scheduled before Monday's 5-3 win over Cincinnati.
The weather cooperated enough for the Cardinals' seven living Hall of Famers -- including the most recent inductee, Tony La Russa -- and members of the 2014 club to be introduced via motorcade before first pitch. A steady light rain fell on them as they lined the field and later watched the 2013 National League champions banner be hoisted up a pole in left-center field.
The Cardinals had Mike Shannon, Danny Cox and Jim Edmonds carry out league championship trophies of the team's past before general manager John Mozeliak presented the one won in '13.
"I think part of the excitement that we have with the Hall of Famers and just the whole presentation of guys coming out the way they do in cars and trucks, it's unique," manager Mike Matheny said before the festivities began. "Everybody does it very well. People put a lot of time and effort into it. But it seems like there are some more long-standing traditions here than in other places."
A soggy Busch Stadium crowd saved one of its biggest ovations for Chris Carpenter, who brought his two children to the mound for a ceremonial first pitch. Matheny, his former batterymate, caught the pitch, which Carpenter threw with conviction.
"It was a great experience," Peter Bourjos said. "I've heard a lot about it, and everything I heard, it lived up to it. The fans were unbelievable. Getting to meet all the Hall of Famers and just driving around the stadium, getting to take it all in, was something very special that I'm never going to forget."
Like Bourjos, this was also Kolten Wong's first opportunity to experience Opening Day under the shadow of the Gateway Arch.
"It was magical," Wong said. "Even though it was raining, I was still super-excited and super-thrilled to see the amount of fans that came out. To be a part of the whole festivities that went down, it was awesome."
Moved to No. 2 hole, Bourjos breaks out of rut
ST. LOUIS -- Before the season opened, manager Mike Matheny noted the potential for fluidity when it came to the second spot in the Cardinals' lineup. Matchups and hot streaks, Matheny said, would play into his decision about who to plug into the batting order behind Matt Carpenter.
On Monday, he found another factor.
Peter Bourjos became the fourth different player in seven games to occupy that No. 2 hole in the lineup, and his placement there was dictated by Matheny's hope to get Bourjos hitting. The new Cardinals center fielder was 0-for-13 to open the season, though Matheny hoped that having Bourjos hit ahead of Matt Holliday would ensure him some decent pitches to hit.
Bourjos singled in his first at-bat during a three-run first inning against the Reds on Monday and added a double in the seventh, scoring both times in the Cardinals' 5-3 victory.
"I think more of a jump-start for now," Bourjos said of his lineup placement. "Last year, hitting me behind [Mike] Trout a little bit, [the Angels] tried to do that, too. And you get some more fastballs here with Holliday, obviously. They're not going to be pitching around you as much or getting you to chase. They're going to come right at you."
Until Monday, he had batted seventh or eighth in his first four starts.
"I still want to make adjustments," Bourjos said after the team's win. "I want to cut down on the strikeouts -- I've struck out way too much to start the year -- and just really put the ball in play and simplify the approach. I think as the year goes on, it's going to get better. And it has to, because if it doesn't, it's going to be a long year."
Bourjos struck out twice on Monday, bringing his total to eight in 18 at-bats.
Monday offered an opportunity to move a right-handed bat up in the lineup, too, with Cincinnati lefty Tony Cingrani on the mound. Cingrani limited the Cardinals to two hits in seven shutout innings last Wednesday. Jhonny Peralta batted second in that game; he hit seventh Monday.
"I think that second spot we've seen in the past can be a spot to get guys going," Matheny said. "We're not denying that. It will maybe be something for Peter to get him going, but also our offense as a whole."
With the Reds starting right-hander Homer Bailey on Tuesday, the left-handed-hitting Kolten Wong will likely return to the second place in the batting order.
• Décor has been added to the home clubhouse at Busch Stadium, including a large wall decal that displays Stan Musial's famed quote: "I love to play this game of baseball. I love putting on this uniform." Banners with the name and number of all the Cardinals' Hall of Famers, as well as banners noting the franchise's 11 World Series championships, have also been hung on the clubhouse walls.
• The clubhouse also features a new furnishing. The ping-pong table that Matt Holliday purchased and housed in the Cardinals' Florida facility all spring has been transported to St. Louis and set up in the middle of the clubhouse.
• Tyler Lyons made his season debut with Triple-A Memphis on Sunday and allowed one run on five hits in a six-inning no-decision. Jorge Rondon, who allowed two runs on four hits in an inning of relief, shouldered the loss. First baseman Xavier Scruggs finished with three hits.
• Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz made his first start for Double-A Springfield on Sunday and finished 2-for-5 with a double and pair of RBIs.
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.