Notes: Eckstein's injury is mild

Notes: Good report on Eckstein's injury

JUPITER, Fla. -- Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' head team physician, held a briefing with reporters on Saturday about the team's various walking wounded. He had plenty to talk about.

Paletta, who examined several players during the day on Saturday, provided updates on nine different players. Most notable among them was David Eckstein, who sustained a mild left oblique strain earlier in the week. Paletta said that Eckstein's injury is much less severe than the one he suffered last August, and that the World Series MVP could be playing within a week.

"I would anticipate that each day we'll sort of bump up his activity a little bit and shoot for hopefully by the end of the week having him back into a competitive situation," Paletta said. "So it's a similar area to what he had last year, but not really the same severity at all."

Eckstein reported minimal pain in his left side, only tightness. He will be re-evaluated on Sunday, and if that exam comes up clear, he could begin baseball activities on Monday.

"He has basically full range of motion," the doctor said. "He's got good strength when you test those muscles and really minimal pain when you test the strength of those specific muscles.

"Back in '06, he was very tender. He had a hard time bending over, coughing, sneezing, things like that. None of that really bothers him today. So this is very, very mild. It's the same area, but it's not nearly the same magnitude or severity."

According to Paletta, Eckstein's injury is actually less severe than the one sustained by his double-play partner, Adam Kennedy. However, the prior occurrence for Eckstein increases the level of concern.

Additional updates from Paletta:

• Cody Haerther: The outfield prospect has what the doctor characterized as a "mild wrist sprain" and will undergo an MRI exam on Monday. Haerther sustained the injury in the Cards' game against Florida Atlantic University on Monday and has not played in a Grapefruit League game.

• Russ Springer: Another Cardinal bothered by pain in the ribcage area, Springer will throw off a mound on Sunday. Paletta said Springer has dealt with a similar condition in several previous springs.

• Jim Edmonds: Though Edmonds is prevented from any kind of impact exercise on his foot, he's begun swinging the bat. According to Paletta, Edmonds' surgically repaired shoulder is further along than his surgically repaired toe.

"The toe wasn't done until January, and the timetable for the toe was really somewhere around that three-to-four month mark," Paletta said. "Three months puts you right at Opening Day, so it's an optimistic, aggressive plan. But right now, he's gotten through these first two weeks without a big step backward. So we keep our fingers crossed and keep moving forward with the plan."

Wilson scratched, Encarnacion progressing: Preston Wilson, originally written in as the right fielder for the Cardinals' game against the Marlins on Saturday, was removed from the lineup due to right biceps tendinitis. He's expected to miss Sunday as well, but the injury is not believed to be serious.

"He didn't swing," said manager Tony La Russa, "and I think he's not going to swing tomorrow, either."

John Rodriguez started in Wilson's place. Rodriguez collected a pair of base hits and was hit by a pitch.

Juan Encarnacion, the Cards' regular right fielder, continues to progress in his recovery from offseason left wrist surgery. Encarnacion has begun taking soft-toss and could progress to batting practice in a matter of days. Paletta said the club has targeted approximately March 15 for Encarnacion to begin playing in games.

"We're just taking it little by little, not rushing," Encarnacion said.

Wells makes solid debut: Kip Wells would have liked to go a third inning in his Cardinals debut, but he was fairly pleased with his appearance just the same. Wells allowed a hit and a walk in two shutout innings, recording two strikeouts. He threw 33 pitches, 18 of them for strikes.

"The goal was three innings, but considering how I threw and everything, I'm relatively content with it," Wells said. "Sure, I'd like to have maybe thrown a few less pitches. ... At this point, it's a satisfactory first outing. You can always improve on stuff. I'll take it to get out of the gates with a couple zeroes."

Feeling better: Brian Falkenborg, laid out for two days by food poisoning, returned to camp on Saturday a slimmer man. Falkenborg was scheduled to pitch in Saturday's game, but was held back while he continues to recover. It's unclear when he'll pitch in a game.

Radio debut: Saturday's game was the first of the year to be carried on the Cardinals Radio Network. Mike Shannon and John Rooney will call games on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of the spring.

Bits and pieces: Skip Schumaker had two hits and a walk on Saturday, earning praise from La Russa. "He's got a better approach [than last spring]," the manager said. "He can get to more pitches." ... Tennis star James Blake, currently ranked No. 6 in the world, will visit Cardinals camp when the ATP Tour visits South Florida later in the month.

Quotable: "He runs the bases very well and plays defense very well. If he got to where he was a tough out, you've got yourself a player." -- La Russa, on outfielder Miguel Negron

Weather report: Sunday is expected to bring morning rains and cooler temperatures. The forecast calls for a game-time temperature of 71, dropping slightly as the afternoon goes on. Once the game starts, there shouldn't be any rain falling.

Coming up: The Cards play their first game this year as the visiting team at Roger Dean Stadium, wearing their road grays against the Marlins in Jupiter on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Anthony Reyes will start, followed by Brad Thompson, Chris Lambert, Andy Cavazos, Mark Worrell and Tyler Johnson.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.