8/6/2014 12:58 A.M. ET
Big step for Wacha as he begins throwing program
By Jenifer Langosch and Alex Halsted / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- With clearance from the Cardinals' medical staff, Michael Wacha began a throwing program on Tuesday that he hopes will have him ready to return to the rotation next month.
Wacha didn't exert himself much, simply playing catch, but it was nevertheless tangible progress for the right-hander, who had not thrown a baseball since mid-June. The MRI he underwent on Monday -- his fourth such exam in a seven-week span -- showed continued healing from a stress reaction in his right shoulder. It was what the Cardinals needed to see in order to start pushing him back toward full activity.
"The arm feels great, and it's good to get some positive results back," Wacha said. "I don't feel anything in the shoulder. It definitely feels strong, and it feels alive. I'm excited about getting good news and getting started back up here."
The timeline and specifics of Wacha's throwing program will be determined as the Cardinals see how his arm responds to each test. Wacha will throw on flat ground for several days, possibly until he has his next MRI, scheduled for Aug. 18. If he has not graduated to throwing off a mound by then, another positive reading should push him to that point.
"As long as there is nothing that shows up [on the MRI] in two weeks ... we'll just keep moving forward," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We'll take it day by day. Right now there is a lot of optimism."
If Wacha can avoid setbacks, the expectation is that he will be ready to pitch for the Cardinals in September. The organization still plans to build him up to carry a starters' workload, though Mozeliak has acknowledged that the Cardinals could use Wacha as a reliever down the stretch if that is the team's need.
Because Wacha has been active in the weight and training rooms while awaiting the green light to throw, he should be able to navigate through this throwing program quicker than he would during Spring Training. He has also spent the last several weeks targeting his lower body in workouts.
As the Cardinals try to find ways to prevent this injury from recurring, they hope that increased strength in that area will help.
"I feel really encouraged with where he's at that way," Mozeliak said. "I think from the pure physical standpoint, he's probably as strong as he's ever been."
"I'm building up all the muscles around it to get it stronger and trying to prevent it from happening again," added Wacha. "Hopefully, I took enough time here where it won't flare up for the rest of the season. [I'll] definitely have to still work on the rehab staff in the offseason, probably for the rest of my career."
Robinson makes the most of chance to contribute
ST. LOUIS -- It was nearing a week since reserve outfielder Shane Robinson last stepped to the plate, but he delivered on Tuesday night when his name was finally called.
Robinson, who has been up and down with the Cardinals this season, last played on Wednesday, with Triple-A Memphis, before being called up. He didn't get into a game until he pinch-hit in the seventh inning of Tuesday's series opener with the Red Sox.
Robinson worked a seven-pitch walk and scored the game-tying run on Kolten Wong's single in the 3-2 win at Busch Stadium.
"It's nice when we see the guys that are locked in at Triple-A [get] an opportunity and they look like they haven't missed a beat," manager Mike Matheny said. "The baserunning, too, that slide was a very athletic move."
Robinson, 29 and in his fourth stint with the Major League club, hit .304 at Triple-A this season but hasn't found much playing time in a crowded Cardinals outfield. But he knows his role and has embraced the chances to contribute, as he did on Tuesday.
"It's not easy at all," Robinson said. "I think the hardest part about it is throwing out the bad days, and obviously you have more bad days than good being in that position -- trying to take whatever positive actions you can out of what you did and carrying that over and throwing out all the bad things and all the failures."
Craig looking ahead but grateful for time with Cards
ST. LOUIS -- When Allen Craig drove into downtown St. Louis in April 2010, he was a 25-year-old rookie and knew next to nothing about the city or what awaited him.
In time he would become a beloved member of the 2011 World Series team, and he developed into an All-Star last season, when he hit .315.
This season started slower as he worked back from a foot injury sustained last season, and he hit .237 in 97 games before the Cardinals traded him to the Red Sox last week at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I was thinking earlier just about coming to St. Louis for the first time and seeing the stadium and not really knowing anything about the city or anything," Craig said on Tuesday, standing in the visitors' clubhouse at Busch Stadium before the Red Sox and Cardinals opened a three-game series. "Where I sit here today, winning a World Series, playing in another World Series [and being] one game within another World Series, I've just been extremely blessed to be a part of this team and the fan base."
Though Craig won't appear in this series, having been placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with a foot injury sustained when he arrived in Boston last Friday, that didn't stop the questions from coming. Craig was visibly shaken in San Diego last Thursday when he was traded, hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. After he signed a five-year, $31 million contract with an option for a sixth season during Spring Training of 2013, the expectation had been that his tenure in St. Louis would be long-lived.
"The business of baseball sometimes takes you directions that you weren't exactly expecting, but that's part of the game," he said. "The toughest part was just leaving the people behind, because that's what it's about -- relationships with people. To see that ending is a little sad, but I'm really looking forward to this opportunity that I have [with the Red Sox]."
The Cardinals and Craig both struggled to find the perfect solution to his troubles at the plate this season. He worked with mechanics and hit .333 during a 12-game stretch in early June, but that level couldn't be sustained.
On Tuesday he refused to blame his lack of production on injuries. Instead he was looking ahead, with three guaranteed years left on his contract and a new view on this particular ride into downtown St. Louis.
"Things change, and I'm looking forward to this new chapter in Boston," he said. "How I feel today is how I felt a few years ago coming to St. Louis a little bit. It's going to be new, and I've got to learn and get to know the guys and fan base and organization."
• After missing five straight games while nursing a sore left wrist, Jon Jay returned to action as the starting center fielder on Tuesday. "Things are moving forward with him," manager Mike Matheny said, "and hopefully, we'll be able to stay ahead of it now."
• Lefty Tyler Lyons was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week after throwing two complete games last week. Lyons allowed one earned run, didn't walk a batter and struck out 11 in the pair of games. He is the first PCL pitcher to throw two complete games in a week since Carlos Torres did so with Las Vegas in June 2013.
• Adam Wainwright is hosting his second annual "Waino's World of Fantasy Football" experience on Aug. 15 to raise money for various local and international organizations that service basic needs. Wainwright has recruited several teammates, including Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Wacha and Shelby Miller, to participate in the fantasy football leagues. He has also spread the initiative to nine other cities, where players from other teams will also host fans for a draft day experience. To find out more about the event and participating cities, visit bigleagueimpact.org.
• The Cardinals, in conjunction with the On the Run "Six Is a Serious Number" promotion, announced that they will offer a select number of $6 tickets for their Aug. 18-20 games against the Reds. The tickets can be purchased at cardinals.com/six.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.