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Cardinals medical report, March 11

The Cardinals got some good news from doctors yesterday.

Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, who went to a specialist because of a "persistent" neck problem, was diagnosed with a bulging disc. That's a relief because the St. Louis ace has a history of nerve problems in his pitching arm. And I was fearful that this issue was related.

I'm not sure how serious the bulging disc is, because there is a wide spectrum of possibilities. But it doesn't sound like the team -- or Carpenter, himself -- are too worried about it.

Left fielder Matt Holliday has also received clearance to play.

Holliday had tightness in his side and the Redbirds held him out of games basically as a precaution. But the situation still leaves me pretty worried.

Holliday's 2011 season was pretty seriously hindered by injuries and maladies, so I was hopeful that he was going to get a fresh start this season. Instead, it seems like more of the same. Rib cage injuries can linger on all season. So I am hopeful that the spring training caution will pay off in the long run.

The highest-paid player in Cardinals history, Holliday is likely going to bear most of the burden of carrying the offense with Albert Pujols gone.

Not only is Holliday likely to assume Pujols' third place slot in the batting order. But he is the centerpiece of the offense. While Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran have been productive players in their career, Berkman is on a one-year contract and Beltran has a two-year deal.