ST. LOUIS -- Infielder Nick Punto will head to Florida when the Cardinals leave for a 10-game western road trip, and Punto could begin playing extended spring games as early as Monday.
Punto underwent surgery for a sports hernia in February and his progress has been consistently solid throughout his rehabilitation. He will work out at the Cardinals' Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Fla. When extended spring games begin on Monday, if Punto is ready to go, he will start playing in those games.
"That makes the most sense," Punto said of heading south. "If they're going to leave me behind, I might as well go."
The club still is not setting a date for Punto to return to the Major League roster, but beginning to play games would be a significant step in that direction.
"I'm just really pleased that it's this early in April and he's already out there doing baseball stuff," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's all to the good."