Rehabbing Freese, Punto nearing return

Rehabbing Freese, Punto nearing return

ST. LOUIS -- David Freese and Nick Punto have both gotten off to strong starts on their Minor League rehabilitation assignments, and both infielders could be back with the Cardinals on their upcoming road trip to Baltimore and St. Petersburg. General manager John Mozeliak said Thursday that he's pleased with the progress of both players.

"Very positive," Mozeliak said. "Both came out of last night's game feeling good."

Freese played his second game on Wednesday for Triple-A Memphis, going 1-for-3 in each appearance. He has a double, a walk and a strikeout, appearing at third base for the Redbirds. Freese has been out since late April due to a broken bone in his left hand. Freese has tweeted that he expects to rejoin the Cardinals by the "end of the month," which would be no later than Thursday's game in Baltimore.

"He says everything felt great," manager Tony La Russa said. "Feet, everything. Wrist."

Punto, meanwhile, has yet to play the field for Double-A Springfield. Through three games as the S-Cards' designated hitter, he was 6-for-12. Punto, who is recovering from a right forearm injury, is slated to make the first infield appearance of his rehab assignment on Friday. That's the biggest step for Punto, who has had little problem hitting at any point during his recovery.