CHICAGO -- Standing in the same batters' box where he took a Mike Montgomery pitch off his right thumb six weeks ago, Matt Holliday tested that surgically repaired thumb during live batting practice on Friday.
Holliday faced teammate Mike Mayers for about 15 minutes during the morning session, which was watched closely by manager Mike Matheny and hitting coach John Mabry from their perch behind the cage. Holliday drove pitches deep to all parts of the field, swung and missed at a few and fouled off several more. One particular pitch Holliday hit off the end of the bat briefly aggravated his thumb, but after stepping out of the box to regroup for a few seconds, he continued the session without issue.
"He took some really good swings," Matheny said afterward. "He blistered a couple balls, which was exciting to see. We'll see how he recovers."
The recovery will be as much of a test as Friday's exercise. Holliday has been plagued by soreness and swelling after several sessions of coach-pitched batting practice. If his thumb responds well to Friday's work, Holliday is expected to take swings off live pitching one more time before the Cardinals consider activating him from the disabled list for the final days of the regular season.
• Matheny kept Aledmys Diaz out of the lineup for the second time in three games, as Diaz continues to deal with arm soreness and timing issues. It appears that the time Diaz missed while recovering from a right thumb injury left his arm unconditioned to the demands of playing regularly again. The Cardinals will continue to monitor Diaz's improvement and then start him accordingly.
Diaz is 5-for-27 since returning from the DL.
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.