ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals came home from a weeklong road trip to some very good news. Third baseman David Freese is making excellent progress in his return from two injuries and hopes to go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment as soon as Sunday.

"I ran yesterday and it felt pretty good, so I'm just looking to pass today and tomorrow and get out of here. Go to Memphis and get back on the field," Freese said. "It's been frustrating this past month. I'm just looking forward to getting back out there."

The 27-year-old Freese last played on June 27. He was feeling discomfort in his right ankle for some time before that, but at the end of June he was finally placed on the disabled list. Approximately three weeks later, he endured a setback, dropping a weight on his left big toe and suffering a racture.

"I think he's really feeling good," manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't know how much the toe affected him. I just talked to him and you can tell the sincerity in what he says. He's really fired up about the way he's feeling. So that's a good sign. He's making a lot of noises about being very close. Our training staff wants to make sure he goes step by step before he goes crazy, but it's all working really well for him."

Freese is batting .296 with a .361 on-base percentage, a .404 slugging percentage, four home runs and 36 RBIs for the Cardinals this season. In his absence, Felipe Lopez has been the team's primary third baseman. The return would allow Lopez to move back to the middle infield, where both Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan are enduring down years at the plate.

La Russa observing, but no deal imminent

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Tony La Russa is following the Cardinals' efforts with interest, but he said Friday that he doesn't know of anything imminent for the Cardinals before Saturday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"I don't know," La Russa said. "It's getting pretty late. I think at one time we probably had quite a few [possibilities] but I don't know right now. I just don't know."

Multiple reports Friday evening indicated that the Cardinals may be focused on Cleveland right-hander Jake Westbrook, a player who has long been of interest to St. Louis. Westbrook would provide depth to a starting rotation that still has two pitchers on the disabled list. However, general manager John Mozeliak told the Associated Press on Friday that nothing is close to being done.

"All's quiet," Mozeliak said.

St. Louis also maintains interest in an offensive upgrade at one of the middle-infield positions, if such a move is possible.

Cardinals ink Draft pick Blair to contract

ST. LOUIS -- Seth Blair, the Cardinals' second pick in last month's Draft, has agreed to terms. Blair was at Busch Stadium on Friday and the Cards formally announced the signing shortly before the series opener with the Pirates got under way.

Blair, 21, was the ace of Arizona State's staff in 2010, going 12-1 with a 3.64 ERA, 108 strikeouts and 29 walks as the Sun Devils advanced to the College World Series. He was the 46th selection in the First-Year Player Draft, a compensation pick for the Cardinals after losing Mark DeRosa to free agency.

Blair is likely to report to short-season Class A Batavia of the New York-Penn League. First-round pick Zack Cox remains unsigned, as do supplemental first-rounder Tyrell Jenkins and second-rounder Jordan Swagerty.

Baby birds

Allen Craig's three doubles led Triple-A Memphis, which erupted for six runs in the final two innings of an 8-3 win over New Orleans on Thursday. Mark Hamilton homered. ... Double-A Springfield was held to three hits in a 4-0 loss to Arkansas. ... Deryk Hooker was chased after two-thirds of an inning in Class A Palm Beach's 8-3 loss to Daytona. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on five hits and two walks. ... Edgar Lara and Luis Mateo each homered in Class A Quad Cities' 7-4 loss to Kane County. ... Audry Perez doubled and drove in three runs, helping short-season Batavia beat Auburn, 8-3. ... Philip Cerreto stayed torrid with three more hits, but rookie-level Johnson City lost to Elizabethton, 12-2.

Craig is the player of the day, continuing to hit well since he was sent back down to the Minors. He went 3-for-5 with three doubles, two runs and three RBIs. In six games since his demotion, Craig is 8-for-19 (.421) with five doubles. On the year, Craig is batting .316 with a .380 on-base percentage, a .532 slugging percentage, 11 homers, 23 doubles and 72 RBIs. He was an eighth-round pick out of Cal in 2006.

Worth noting

Whitey Herzog's No. 24 will be retired prior to Saturday's game at Busch Stadium, with on-field ceremonies beginning at 6 p.m. CT. First-pitch time for the game has been pushed back to 6:22 p.m. CT. Herzog was inducted into the Hall of Fame last weekend. ... Kyle Lohse will make his second Minor League rehabilitation start on Saturday for Triple-A Memphis. ... La Russa referred to his outfield situation as "three for two spots," indicating that for the time being, Jon Jay will split time with both Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick.