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Furcal wants to come back. But do the Cardinals need him?

Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is pushing to be cleared to resume hitting and throwing with an eye towards being available at some point during the post season.

But is it in the best interests of the Cardinals to rush Furcal back?

Rookie call-up Pete Kozma has been playing out of this mind lately. Not only is he playing slick defense. But Kozma has had more than a few key hits to help the Redbirds win some important games down the stretch. With a 3-for-3 day Sunday in which he broke open the scoring with a shot into the right field corner to plate a pair of runs, Kozma improved his batting average to .338 with 14 RBIs.

Now I'm not trying to shove Furcal out the door after he was a key piece of the Redbirds' 2011 post season drive. I still believe he has a future in St. Louis. I just think that future is in 2013. And I fear Furcal could jeopardize his ability to play next season -- a year the Cardinals are on the hook for financially -- by pushing it this year.

And if he's only 75 percent, is he really going to be able to help the team? I'm not suggesting that Kozma is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame with less than a month under his major league belt. He's a .260 hitter in the minors, after all. But there is no denying he's hot right now and getting the job done when it counts.

If he got full medical clearance, that's one thing. But, from what I have read, Furcal is still in significant pain. He's just itching to play, which is admirable... But not necessarily the best thing for either him or the team.

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