WASHINGTON -- When rosters expand on Wednesday, the Cardinals may add some youngsters. They will add a 35-year-old right-handed starter.
Jeff Suppan has been slotted in to make his return to the starting rotation in Wednesday's series finale against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Suppan hasn't pitched since July 31 due to a strained right groin.
"I've been throwing, doing what I can," Suppan said. "Working out, running, throwing bullpen [sessions], trying to keep the touch and feel going. ... Threw a couple extended bullpens, things like that."
Suppan's start will bump back Jaime Garcia, who had been scheduled to pitch that game. Instead, Garcia will pitch Friday's series opener at home against the Reds, followed by Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter over the weekend. After starting this coming Monday, Jake Westbrook will be pushed back to the beginning of the following road trip on Sept. 6 against the Brewers at Miller Park.
Franklin unavailable Saturday vs. Nats
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Franklin walked around the Cardinals' clubhouse on Saturday afternoon with a large wrap around his neck and likely was not available to pitch Saturday night's game against Washington at Nationals Park.
The right-hander said he woke up with a stiff neck -- caused, he believes, by substandard pillows in his hotel room. He might not have been available anyway after working hard in each of the Cardinals' past two games, but the odds got even longer with the neck issue. Both he and manager Tony La Russa believe it to be a short-term situation, though.
"I woke up this morning and can't turn," Franklin said.
Meanwhile, the Cards' apparent backup closer, Jason Motte, got closer to a return to active duty on Friday. Motte, on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, pitched two seamless innings for Triple-A Memphis on Friday night in the second game of his Minor League rehabilitation assignment. La Russa said he expects Motte to join the Cardinals in Houston after this weekend.
Molina, Rasmus may be back for finale
WASHINGTON -- If the strength of a Major League team is up the middle, the Cardinals could be a whole lot stronger on Sunday.
Catcher Yadier Molina and center fielder Colby Rasmus both have good chances of returning to the active lineup for Sunday afternoon's series finale at Nationals Park after missing time due to injuries. Molina sat out of the starting lineup for the second straight night on Saturday as he deals with right knee soreness.
"I think Molina will play tomorrow," manager Tony La Russa said on Saturday afternoon. "He made an argument for today, and the training staff said, 'The swelling is just going down, don't do it.'"
Rasmus has not started a game since Aug. 15 as he attempts to recuperate from a right calf injury. He worked out on the bases on Saturday, with the hope that he would be giving the muscle a final serious test before returning to the field.
"I got on it pretty good [on Friday], and it felt good," Rasmus said. "Today, my leg is a little sore, but a good sore. I feel strong."
Schumaker's reemergence all about health
WASHINGTON -- Skip Schumaker is swinging the bat well lately. He's also feeling good. It's likely not a coincidence.
Since receiving a cortisone shot in his troublesome left wrist early this month, Schumaker has been on a roll. Entering Saturday night's game, he was batting .346 with a .388 on-base percentage since the shot. He explained that while he was none too thrilled to have the injection, it's been quite helpful.
"I wasn't happy about it at first, but it feels a lot better," he said. "So that's definitely a good sign. It's as close [to normal] as it's been. It's gotten better since the cortisone. Which is a good thing."
Schumaker's recent production earned him a start in right field on Saturday night, as manager Tony La Russa wanted to get him and Felipe Lopez in the lineup while keeping the best defensive alignment on the left side of his infield.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.