JUPITER, Fla. -- Though he still has every intention of being ready to play on Opening Day, Allen Craig has not yet resumed any on-field baseball activities. That's not to suggest, though, that there has been any sort of delay or setback in his recovery from November knee surgery.
Craig's days are split primarily between the training room and the weight room. While his legs likely could handle light running, fielding drills or swings in the batting cage, the Cardinals would prefer that Craig first focus all his attention on improving his leg strength. Running is expected to be added to his program soon, and eventually baseball activities will, as well.
Craig and the Cardinals have not attached a projected date to any of these benchmarks, preferring, instead, to let feeling dictate how quickly the rehab program progresses.
"It's just one of those things where you only have a certain amount of energy in a day, and right now the focus is on the weight room," Craig said. "It's not that I can't go out and take swings in the cage right now. It's just not worth doing that and taking away from something else. Right now the focus is getting the strength."
With more than six weeks remaining until Opening Day, it is too early to definitively know whether it will be necessary for Craig to spend any time on the disabled list. That determination will largely hinge on how many at-bats he is able to get in Grapefruit League play.
"We're just taking it a day at a time and a week at a time to see how I respond and how I come back," said Craig, who is a candidate to be the team's everyday right fielder. "I'm making some good strides in the weight room. Things are getting easier. I wouldn't be surprised if running and agility is in the near future."
At the time of the knee procedure, it was estimated that Craig would be sidelined for four-to-six months. He is currently three months removed from the surgery.
Relievers won't prepare to be spot starters
JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny suggested that the Cardinals have no immediate plans to extend the workload of some projected Cards relievers in order to have them ready as an emergency starter.
That means that, barring any injuries to the five rotation members, pitchers like Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs will build themselves up this spring solely as relievers. The three right-handers, who all have past experience as starters, are competing for spots in the Cardinals' bullpen.
"When you have a younger 'pen, you don't want to confuse the issue," Matheny said. "When you have guys who are still trying to find their role ... right now we have everybody exactly where we want to be."
Should the Cardinals end up needing someone to plug a rotation vacancy, the Cardinals have some capable Triple-A options, including Brandon Dickson, who could step in. And if there were to be an injury early in camp, St. Louis could still alter the routine of someone like McClellan in order to create another starting candidate.
McClellan stepped in to make 17 starts for the Cardinals last year after Adam Wainwright's injury left a hole in the rotation. He posted a 4.21 ERA and 6-6 record in those starts. McClellan won another six games as a reliever and finished with a 4.14 ERA in those 26 appearances out of the 'pen.
The absence of Tony La Russa has not gone unnoticed here during these first two workout days. In fact, manager Mike Matheny took some time on Sunday to text La Russa and let him know he was missed. Matheny said that, in the same message, he also thanked La Russa for all he had done for him and the organization.
"He responded short and sweet," Matheny added. "He certainly was on the minds of those of us around here who learned so much from him."
In other former Cardinal news, Albert Pujols reported to the Angels' Spring Training complex for the first time on Monday morning. The first baseman was scheduled to hold a press conference later that afternoon.
Outfielder Jon Jay arrived at the Cardinals' spring complex after most of the pitchers and catchers had completed their workouts on Monday. Position players are required to report by the end of the day on Thursday.
A second group of 15 pitchers threw bullpen sessions on Monday, including Kyle Lohse, Jason Motte, Scott Linebrink, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs and J.C. Romero. All 30 pitchers in camp have now thrown off the mound once since the official start of camp.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.