SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Holliday had to cancel his scheduled simulated game Saturday after his surgically repaired right thumb swelled up after taking batting practice one day earlier. The change of plans leaves the Cardinals uncertain as to what rehab steps will be next for the veteran left fielder and if Holliday even has enough time left in the regular season to make a return.
"We'll just continue to get him out there and see how he adjusts," manager Mike Matheny said. "But right now with that thumb swelling up, it doesn't make it very much of an option to move onto live at this point. When you're talking about having something surgically repaired, you never have an exact template of how that's going to look bringing it all back together. I think it's just going to be day to day."
It marked the second time this week that Holliday delayed facing live pitching due to swelling and soreness. It's been one month now since he had a screw inserted into his thumb, a procedure that doctors told Holliday would offer him the best chance at playing again this season.
The Cardinals, however, do not plan on activating Holliday until he proves his thumb can withstand the pressure of making contact against high-velocity pitches.
"You see the velocity, and I'm sure the contact of hitting a 90 mph fastball will give me a better feel of what that will feel like if I do get jammed or if that's going to be something that causes me soreness or swelling," Holliday said. "I'd love to play, but I can't do it by jeopardizing my finger or putting it in a bad situation. I have soreness. It's clearly not 100 percent."
Matheny noted he hasn't "talked bigger picture" with Holliday regarding the chances of a late-season return following this latest setback. Holliday's rehab schedule will be determined by the daily progress he makes.
If Holliday cannot regain enough strength in his thumb to play again this year, it's possible he won't take another at-bat as a Cardinal. He is due to become a free agent at the end of the season unless the Cardinals exercise a $17 million club option. The organization has not commented on its plans regarding that contract.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.