Notes: Kennedy reports no pain

Notes: Kennedy reports no pain

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- An offensive outburst led to a short debut for Adam Kennedy.

The Cardinals second baseman, making his first start of the spring after sitting out with a strained right oblique muscle, played only 3 1/2 innings for St. Louis on Saturday. That's because the plan was for Kennedy to get three at-bats and get out of the game, and his leadoff spot came around for the third time in the top of the fourth inning.

Kennedy looked rusty in his first at-bat, but got sharper. He struck out to lead off the game against lefty Adam Loewen, then popped up to third against Brian Burres in the third inning. In the fourth, he hit a well-struck line drive to center field that a stiff wind knocked down. After his last at-bat, prospect Brendan Ryan came in to play second.

"I'm just pleased I didn't have to worry about it," Kennedy said. "It's tough enough to play, let alone worrying about an injury. And I didn't have to. So that was good. As long as I get a good warmup in the morning, throughout the day it gets better and better. I didn't feel it. I swung and missed a lot, and I didn't feel it once."

Kennedy will sit out Sunday's game at home against the Braves, but will return to the lineup against Atlanta on Monday. He's expected to make the trip to Fort Myers on Tuesday, then receive another day off Wednesday.

Eckstein could play Sunday: Kennedy's double-play partner will probably return Sunday, according to manager Tony La Russa. David Eckstein, who has also been sidelined with an oblique strain, is slated to be back in the St. Louis lineup either Sunday or Tuesday. Eckstein has played only one game this spring, the Cards' Grapefruit League opener Feb. 28.

Ideally, Eckstein would play in Sunday's game against the Braves, then take a day off, then travel to Fort Myers to play Tuesday. One way or another, La Russa wants Eckstein to make the trip to play the Twins, so the one day Eckstein will not return is Monday.

"He keeps passing the tests," La Russa said Saturday afternoon. "He's good for Monday, but I don't want to play him Monday because I want to take him Tuesday. So he either plays tomorrow or he plays Tuesday.

"Barry [Weinberg, the Cards' head athletic trainer] said he could play Monday. I said, 'Well I don't want him to play Monday.' He plays Tuesday or tomorrow. And my guess is he probably plays tomorrow."

Miles improves: Yet another middle infielder is making progress as well. Aaron Miles, who was scratched Friday due to some gastrointestinal distress, returned to camp Saturday. He did not make the trip but said he was feeling much better. Miles could be available to play Sunday.

Wainwright stretches out: Adam Wainwright made the longest start by a Cardinal this spring, going 4 2/3 shutout innings in his third game. Wainwright allowed five hits and one walk. He was dissatisfied with his signature curveball, but threw enough quality fastballs, changeups and sliders to make up for it.

"I think it was just OK," Wainwright said. "My curveball was absolutely terrible today. But my changeup was pretty good, and my slider was all right. So I was able to get by with those. I didn't put guys away when I had them ahead in the count. I made some really bad pitches, but I made some good pitches when I needed to, so I got out of some jams."

Wainwright has tweaked his slider a little bit this year. It's not always a true slider anymore. Against left-handed hitters, he's throwing it in a way that more resembles a cut fastball, with a shorter, tighter break.

"To the right-handers, the bigger one is better than the little one," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "To the left-handers, the little one is better than the big one."

Bozied impresses: Tagg Bozied is the only player to have appeared in every Cardinals game this spring, and he's continuing to earn at-bats. Bozied singled, scored two runs and stole a base Saturday. For the spring, he's 7-for-18 (.389) with five runs scored and three RBIs. He has drawn notice for his baserunning and defense as well.

"I've been impressed with how he plays the game," La Russa said. "He's a heady baserunner. He's taken good at-bats. He's done it the hard way -- the last [hitting] group against the toughest pitchers, last in the afternoon. The camp has not been set up for him."

Bozied has played almost exclusively first and third base in the Minor Leagues, but he got the start in right field Saturday. He moved to first base after Albert Pujols came out of the game. The makeup of the Cards' roster means there's very little chance for Bozied to make the team, but he has impressed during his stint thus far.

Quotable: "His curveball, he did not have good command with today. But the last time I checked, it was March [10]." -- Duncan, on Wainwright

Weather report: Sunday's forecast is about as close to perfect as you can get. The first-pitch temperature should be 80 degrees, with no clouds and no chance to rain. It will be fairly breezy, with winds at about 15 mph.

Coming up: The Braves come to town for two games starting Sunday. Chris Carpenter will take the mound in the first contest between the two clubs, set to start at 12:05 p.m. CT. Kyle Davies will start for Atlanta. The game will be covered on KSDK-TV 5 and MLB.TV, which will carry Cardinals games all season long.

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