The St. Louis Cardinals have put third baseman David Freese on the 15-day disabled list because of a lower back strain, the team announced Tuesday.
Freese's berth on the DL is retroactive to March 23, the last time he appeared in a game. He hurt his back several weeks earlier, when he fell into the stands chasing a foul ball during an exhibition game.
The move means Freese will not be able to play when the Cardinals open the season next Monday in Arizona.
Short term, the Cardinals are likely to play Matt Carpenter at third while Daniel Descalso assumed fulltime duties at second base. Carpenter, a corner infielder and outfielder, has played second almost exclusively this spring as he learns a new position.
The team also said Tuesday it had optioned left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman to the Class AAA Memphis roster, and recalled infielder Ryan Jackson from the Triple-A club.
Freese, the NLCS and World Series MVP in the 2011 postseason, was hitting .267 with two home runs and five RBIs this spring.
Jackson, who had a brief stay with the major-league club last year, will back up short and third as needed when the season gets under way.