Beltran able to play, Molina and Robinson not far behind as Cards get healthier

News-DemocratAugust 13, 2013 

— Citing the importance of the St. Louis Cardinals' three-game series against Pittsburgh, right fielder Carlos Beltran played Tuesday despite a bruised right foot.

Beltran fouled a ball off his instep in the fifth inning of the Cardinals' 8-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. He completed the at-bat, a strikeout, then left the game.

After the game, Beltran wasn't optimistic he would be available Tuesday --even though X-rays were negative. He's still not close to 100 percent, but he gritted his teeth and carried on against the Pirates, who began the series with a three-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.

"I really want to be out there," Beltran said. "I know how important this series is and I understand that right now there's not too many ballplayers out there feeling 100 percent. I just feel I can be out there and compete. That's what it's all about."

Beltran stayed off the foot for most of Monday, an off day for the Cardinals.

"I had to ice it at my house a couple of times," he said. "(Tuesday) I woke up feeling better. It's just bruised. I'm capable of doing everything, so ...

"It bothers me, man, but once the game starts, it's like I don't think about it. I want to be out there and hopefully help the team."

Beltran, who suffered a broken right little toe in spring training, said that injury was more problematic than the bruised foot.

"This is a little less than my broken toe," Beltran said. "My broken toe was very painful and something that I couldn't do much (with) for a while. This is something that's going to be there maybe for a week. Who knows? A week or two.

"But right now is no time for me to think about it. It's just time to move forward. This time of the year, no one feels perfect."

Beltran is batting .305 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs in 104 games. He said hitting is easier than running.

"I went to the cage and hit and it feels fine," he said. "But running will be a little different, a little painful. But it's not going to be a big deal."

Molina on schedule

Catcher Yadier Molina (sprained right knee) worked out again before the game Tuesday and is expected to be cleared Thursday, the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

"Everything is doing good," Molina said. "Right now, this is my second day on the field doing some stuff. It's been pretty good. I don't feel any pain. Everything we're doing now is a good sign. Hopefully, on Thursday I'll be ready to go."

Molina has blocked pitches, made throws to all the bases, caught bullpen sessions and performed mostly straight-line running drills. He has not yet made hard cuts on the bases.

"I've been running some first to third, first to home," he said. "Everything is feeling good."

Molina understands that even though the pain is gone, he must proceed with caution, especially since it's his push-off knee.

"You have to maintain (strength)," Molina said. "Obviously, being a catcher, like I've said before, is a tough position. (Irritation) can come back real quick if you don't take care of it."

Robinson update

Outfielder Shane Robinson (strained right shoulder) also is expected to return from the disabled list Thursday. Robinson was 2-for-10 in three rehab games with Class AA Springfield.

"The main thing was just seeing pitching and testing my arm out," Robinson said. "Everything went well with that. ... I've got two more days. I had a full day off (Monday) and let everything relax. I felt good. I didn't know how good my legs would feel playing a full game the other day, but I felt good on my day off --no real soreness or anything, so I'll stay positive."

Robinson will take batting practice and field fly balls Wednesday, his final workout before being activated.

Curtis recalled

Infielder Jermaine Curtis was recalled from Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday as the Cardinals went back to a 12-man pitching staff, optioning Michael Blazek to Memphis.

The move gives the Cardinals five bench players. Curtis will wear No. 55.

Curtis, 26, was batting .259 with 14 doubles, four home runs, 42 RBIs and a .368 on-base percentage in 96 games at Memphis. The right-handed hitter appeared in three games for the Cardinals in April and was 0-for-2.

"I'm more comfortable. Definitely more comfortable," Curtis said of his latest recall. "Excited at the same time. It's always a great feeling to come to Baseball Heaven."

Curtis said it's been a positive season in his development.

"I would like to do better numbers-wise," he said. "But I've learned a lot in Triple-A. Triple-A is a lot of veterans and they know how to play the game. They're not just throwing fastballs down the middle. I'm learning the game more --to sit on off-speed pitches and to look for this in this count. I think it's going to help me in my career."

Curtis was a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft from UCLA.

Holliday clicking

Left fielder Matt Holliday began Tuesday on a .436 binge (24-for-55), with three doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games.

"Bat speed is there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He's just taking good approaches at the ball. It looks like he's picking it up well. Things are clicking, and I can see it in his eyes, too. He wants to be that guy. He wants to be the catalyst of the offense."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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