Penny almost ready to face hitters

Penny almost ready to face hitters

ST. LOUIS -- In the midst of a run of bad injury news, one ailing St. Louis player is actually making some good progress.

Right-hander Brad Penny will throw one more bullpen session on Saturday then will face hitters on Tuesday in Denver. Penny has been out since May because of a strained right lat muscle.

That schedule conceivably could allow Penny to return to Major League action in the first week after the All-Star break. The Cardinals begin the second half with a pivotal eight-game homestand against 2009 playoff teams and 2010 contenders the Dodgers and Phillies.

"He came out of yesterday in good shape," manager Tony La Russa said. "I think he's going to throw a bullpen tomorrow and then do something in Colorado on Tuesday."

In the meantime, the Cardinals have yet to announce how they will align their rotation in the last week before the break. Monday's off-day allows for some re-jiggering if the club so desires. La Russa did say, however, that Blake Hawksworth will get another start on the road trip to Denver and Houston.