ST. LOUIS -- The reeling Cardinals took two steps closer to getting healthy on Monday. The club announced that both David Freese and Nick Punto have been reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, with Andrew Brown and Pete Kozma optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Freese should provide an instant boost to St. Louis' offense, which has been shut out four times in the past 15 games and has averaged 3.4 runs per game in that span. Punto, meanwhile, will bolster an infield defense that likewise can use the help. The Cardinals rank 11th in the National League in defensive efficiency and have allowed 37 unearned runs, the second-highest total in the league.
Both players have been out for more than a month. Freese last played May 1, when he suffered a broken bone in his left hand. Before the injury, he was batting .356 with a .394 on-base percentage and a .471 slugging percentage. For his career, his line in those three categories is .313/.368/.427.
Freese will replace Daniel Descalso in the lineup, with Descalso moving from being the primary third baseman to serving in a utility role. Descalso has played impressive defense, but is hitting .244/.313/.352 on the year.
Punto last played May 17. He's been out for nearly six weeks due to a right forearm strain. He will serve as the primary backup at second base, shortstop and third base. Known mostly for his defense, Punto has contributed with the bat as well in his first year with the Cardinals, managing a .355 on-base percentage and six extra-base hits in 65 at-bats.
Both players will be with the Cardinals when they begin a six-game Interleague road trip in Baltimore on Tuesday.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.