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Early season injuries could be good for Cards in the long run

I hate seeing Matt Holliday out of the Cardinals lineup as much as anybody. But I'm a little bit alarmed by the way people have been freaking out by the Birds' recent rash of injuries.

The bottom line is that the club has kept on winning despite two stints of Holliday being unavailable, a few games without Lance Berkman, the loss of David Freese, Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto for more than a month and injuries to Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet.

While the starters have been away, the fill ins haven't been half bad. And, if it weren't for the loss of those players to injury, the Cardinals never would have found out just how good Daniel Descalso, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas can be.

Descalso has been the Cardinals big money hitter with games on the line in the late innings. And his glove has been a big plus, too. Craig has basically forced the Redbirds into finding him a place to play because of his productive bat. He had just about taken Schumaker's job away when Holliday went to the disabled list. Hitting in the cleanup hitter's stead Thursay night Craig cranked a dramatic two-run homer to put the Birds in the lead late. Jon Jay led the NL in hitting in May and makes me wonder every time Colby Rasmus botches a ball in centerfield or jogs to first base why he isn't playing in the outfield every day. Sanchez and Salas have been much better in the pen then the guys they replaced. Salas is 10 for 11 in save opportunities after Rasmus failed to catch the third out in the ninth Wednesday to keep the Giants at bat alive.

The best part of it all is, if the Cardinals can stay at the top until their players get healthy, the fill in guys are going to be battle tested and ready when they're called upon later in the season.

The Cardinals offense has been slumping a little bit lately because some of the key guys were getting a little worn down. But the break might help Holliday and starting pitcher Kyle McClellan get freshened up. I also hear that Freese is ahead of schedule on his recovery from a broken hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch. It originally seemed he might be out until the end of July. Now it looks like Freese could be back sometime this month.

Sure, the injuries are a concern. But I have enjoyed watching the kids play, too. I really look forward to seeing what Lance Lynn can do and if Maikel Cleto can harness his big fastball and make it an effective major league pitch.

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