Craig, who underwent right knee surgery in November, was expected to be out 4-6 months as a result. That left the Cardinals preparing to play the first month of the season without Craig, who had been, prior to the Carlos Beltran signing, penciled in as the team's starting right fielder.
Craig still may not be ready by Opening Day, but his progress thus far is at least allowing him to still cling to that goal. The Cardinals are not willing to rule out the possibility, though they are also not using that April 4 date to establish a timetable.
"The job of the medical staff is to hold him back," Matheny said. "Once they start releasing him more, we're going to have more to work with. As far as what that lines out to [be], there are still other peaks to get to. I don't know if he's going to make that next one. He's where he's supposed to be and actually a little bit ahead. I'm listening to what they're telling me, and I'm not jumping too far ahead with my own conclusions that yes, he's going to be here. It's still too early to tell."
Craig resumed throwing this week, which marks his first step back toward full baseball activities. He also continues to engage in a vigorous workout program that is particularly focused on building up strength in his lower half.