JUPITER, Fla. -- The sweat was pouring off Chris Carpenter on Tuesday morning, and that was a good thing for the Cardinals.

Recovering from a left hamstring strain that forced him out of his first spring start a week ago and caused him to cut Sunday's side session short, Carpenter threw for about 12 minutes on the mound outside the Cardinals' clubhouse, increasing the intensity of his throws as he went along.

"It was definitely way better than the other day," Carpenter said afterward. "I was a little tentative at first. As it went on, I was a little more aggressive."

The Cardinals haven't determined whether Carpenter will make what had been his next scheduled start, Friday against the Tigers, though that seems doubtful. Even if his next start is pushed back a few days, Carpenter still has enough time on the spring calendar to make three starts and perhaps be in line to pitch Opening Day on March 31 against the Padres. Carpenter said he definitely plans to be pitching in a game next week.

"I'm not going to push it," Carpenter said. "I've got to make sure it's right before I do anything crazy."

Carpenter, who has never had a hamstring injury before, said he'll see how he feels Wednesday morning and go from there. But he did not seem at all worried that he might miss the start of the season.

Berkman not letting ailments slow him down

JUPITER, Fla. -- It's hard to keep up with all the ailments that have limited Lance Berkman in camp. His left knee, his left elbow and his left calf have all barked at him at various points.

But Berkman has managed to serve as the designated hitter in four straight games, including Tuesday's contest against the Red Sox, and that's considered progress.

"It's a really good sign," said manager Tony La Russa, who said Berkman will also start Thursday at the Braves. "I'm definitely just checking with him and the trainer every day. [On Monday], he had an infield hit and was running all over the place. That's a good sign. We're lucky he can DH for a while."

The various ailments haven't robbed Berkman of his sense of humor. He joked that he looked like Seabiscuit beating out the throw on that infield hit.

Cardinals close to making next round of cuts

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cards are about to embark upon the spring season's lone overnight trip, with back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., against the Braves.

"It would be nice to have the Dodgers still here and the Orioles here [nearby]," manager Tony La Russa said. "But the one saving grace -- and it is a huge saving grace -- is this is a Major League road trip. You are a big leaguer, and it's not a lot to go through. You're on the bus an extra hour. It's one of those things you grind through."

When the grind is complete, the axe will probably fall on a few of the depth guys, as the Cards will be due for another round of roster reductions.

"I think the guys are paid through Friday, is my understanding," La Russa said.

But La Russa said he's "not pushing" the final roster. He's going to take his time with the Cards' biggest decisions.

On the whole, La Russa said he's been pleased with camp, despite some notable distractions along the way.

"I don't know what more you can ask them to do," he said. "I haven't seen one drill where guys have just been punching the clock. I think we've had energy in every game."

Worth noting

Manager Tony La Russa likes what center fielder Colby Rasmus brings to the No. 2 spot of the order, where he hit Tuesday against the Red Sox. "He's got the ability to hit no matter where you want him to hit," said La Russa, who fielded a lineup loaded with regulars. "But he does a lot good for us in that two-spot. It deepens our lineup, so that's where he is right now." ... La Russa has been impressed with young third baseman Matt Carpenter's spring. "He goes about it in a complete way," La Russa said. "[He does] everything. He takes leads, plays defense. He never throws an at-bat away. He's having a nice spring and making a mark." ... Former catcher Mike Matheny, who has been in camp as a special instructor and is due to leave at week's end, spoke to the players in a morning meeting Tuesday. "We were talking about the concentration that you need to play all parts of the game," La Russa said. "I wanted to be able to thank Mike for his participation. Then it occurred to me that nobody concentrated better than Mike, so I asked him to say something, and he did."