Craig could be ready for Opening Day

Craig could be ready for Opening Day

Craig could be ready for Opening Day
JUPITER, Fla. -- On the same day the Cardinals ruled out having Chris Carpenter available on Opening Day, the club chose not to do the same when discussing the status of outfielder Allen Craig.

All along expected to start the season on the disabled list, Craig has progressed quickly enough through his rehab work that the Cardinals won't discount the possibility of having him in uniform on April 4 when they open their season against the Marlins in Miami. Though Craig has had no setbacks in his work back from offseason knee surgery, being ready for Opening Day would blow away the team's initial timetable.

Shortly after the surgery, general manager John Mozeliak indicated that a late-April-early-May return would be most realistic for Craig. And yet on Wednesday, Mozeliak said it would be too early to rule out a return date.

"Everything is on the table with him," Mozeliak said. "The way he's progressing, there is a higher probability that he is on our Opening Day roster right now. He is moving along."

Craig took at-bats in a Minor League game on Tuesday. He was scheduled to participate in defensive work -- both in the infield and outfield -- on Wednesday but ended up postponing that only because the fields were too saturated by rain. The Cardinals plan to have Craig continue appearing in Minor League games for now, at least until the organization feels comfortable that Craig is ready to play the field and run the bases without issue.

When Craig underwent a mid-November procedure to repair a fractured right kneecap, the recovery was estimated to last four to six months. Craig just passed the four-month mark on Sunday.

"I really compliment he and the training staff," manager Mike Matheny said. "They are on the front end of that timetable that they were talking about a long time ago. Allen was adamant about, 'I'm going to be ready for Opening Day.' We were all led to believe that that probably wasn't going to be realistic. I guess he showed us. He's now looking to push that timetable."