ST.LOUIS -- Jim Edmonds wasn't in the Cardinals starting lineup on Friday night, and may not be there for the rest of the season, as he continues to battle groin issues in both of his legs.

He did, however, pinch-hit in the eighth inning of Friday's 6-3 loss to Houston, and grounded out to end the inning.

Edmonds underwent an MRI on Thursday and saw two different doctors to seek opinions on his current injury. He was planning on talking to the team physician, Dr. George Paletta, after Friday's game to determine his availability for the rest of the season and go over the test results.

Before the game, Edmonds acknowledged that his season could be over. He said that if Paletta said that it could be harmful to keep playing, he would likely shut it down.

With his team just one game away from official postseason elimination, it wouldn't seem that there is a logical reason for Edmonds to keep playing. However, the center fielder said it's a matter of respect.

"There's a difference between [being] smart and dumb. But, sometimes you have to be respectful to your teammates," Edmonds said. "I'm in the middle of that right now. I think that's something we'll determine [Saturday]."

While he's battling the groin problems now, and hasn't been at 100 percent health much of, if not all of, the season, the center fielder said he was positive that he wanted to return for the 2008 season, and then would see how much longer he wanted to play after that.

Asked if there was a decision to be made about playing next season, Edmonds answered without hesitation.

"No, there's not. I'm going to go home, and get in the best shape I can and come back and play next year," Edmonds said. "I still feel, when I'm healthy, I haven't lost a step. I feel better now than I did two or three years [ago]. I still feel like I can compete at a really high level."

Before the groin problems kicked in, Edmonds said he was feeling as strong as he had all season. The 37-year-old said he didn't get into the full swing of things this season until around the All-Star break.

During last offseason, he underwent two separate surgeries, one repairing his right shoulder and the other fixing a "hammer toe" condition he had on his second toe on his left foot.

"The last month, I felt really good, and I was kind of excited [about] going through a fresh winter and having an extra month and getting in good shape and being able to play at full strength for a whole year," Edmonds said. "I think I could [play] for another two or three years. Every now and then, that thought will be kicked out of my head. It will be interesting to see after this season."

Reyes likely shut down: It appears that right-hander Anthony Reyes has thrown his last inning this season for the Cards.

Reyes is currently battling slight tendinitis in his right shoulder. He's had ineffective outings his last two times out, giving up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings.

"I would doubt very seriously that he's going to pitch," Cards manager Tony La Russa said.

Reyes had a tumultuous season, after a successful campaign last year. After winning Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, Reyes went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA this season and was demoted to Triple-A Memphis on two separate occasions.

Reyes said he hasn't been told for certain that he would be shut down, and was still hoping for a chance to pitch a few more innings.

"I'd like to finish strong," Reyes said. "I want to see it out to the end, and then that's when it's time to turn the page."

Pujols on the field: Still nursing a strained left calf, slugger Albert Pujols was on the field before the game, fielding ground balls and taking batting practice.

Pujols said before Wednesday's game against the Phillies that he was going to take three or four days off from hitting at all, before determining if he could play the rest of the season.

La Russa said the former National League MVP has improved over the last couple of days, and could pinch-hit, if needed.

Thompson's the man: La Russa said on the field before Friday's game that right-hander Brad Thompson will start Saturday night's game against the Astros.

In his last two starts, Thompson has given up five runs in 5 1/3 innings and the Cards lost both games. It's expected that Saturday could turn into a bullpen game, with La Russa using a number of arms out of the 'pen.

The manager still didn't announce a starter for Sunday night, although it looks like it's going to be right-hander Todd Wellemeyer.

Branyan sent home: Russell Branyan was sent home from the Cards clubhouse on Friday, as he continues to battle a serious bout of the stomach flu.

After pinch-hitting in the Cards' 18-1 loss to the Astros on Thursday, Branyan spent the night in the hospital. He was released at about 10 a.m. CT on Friday morning, with what was simply diagnosed as a viral infection.

The Cards training staff was worried that it may have been Branyan's appendix that was bothering him, which would keep him out for an extended period. The doctors said that wasn't the case.

Branyan came to the park on Friday, ready to play, but the training staff sent him home for some rest. He wasn't sure about his availability for the rest of the series.

Coming up: The Cards and Astros will continue their three-game series with a Saturday evening game. The Cards will send Thompson to the hill, while the Astros will counter with young righty Matt Albers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT.