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07/04/08 8:21 PM ET

Injured Cardinals making progress

Izturis expected to return from disabled list Saturday

ST. LOUIS -- Several Cardinals continued to work their way back from injuries on Friday before the start of their July 4 series with the Cubs.

Southpaw Randy Flores and ace Chris Carpenter threw bullpen sessions off the mound. For Flores, it was his first time off the mound since he was placed on the DL on June 26 due to soreness and swelling in his left ankle.

"It was good to test it today and progress," Flores said. "I look forward to increasing that intensity on Sunday."

Flores is focusing on taking his recovery one step at a time, and he was not sure if he could come off the DL immediately when eligible. However, he will increase his workload in his next bullpen session.

Carpenter threw a light session to prepare for his simulated game in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday. He is rehabbing from Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.

"I talked to him," manager Tony La Russa said. "He said he felt all right and he felt good."

While the pitchers continue their rehab process, shortstop Cesar Izturis is nearly ready to come off the DL. Izturis suffered a right hamstring strain on June 21 when the Cardinals were playing in Boston.

The injury to Izturis, and a sore foot for Adam Kennedy, left the Cardinals thin in the middle infield, but Brendan Ryan and, most notably, Aaron Miles played well in their absence.

Izturis said he is feeling the best he has felt since he injured the hamstring and expects to play as soon as Sunday. He's expected to come off the DL on Saturday.

"[Izturis] was really playing well," La Russa said. "But we filled in without him. It's always better when you have everybody around."

Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.