"All I need to see is the green light medically," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's really about it."
Sunday represented another rung of progress for Craig, who had been limited to serving as a designated hitter in the first five games he played on this Minor League rehab assignment. With Lance Berkman sidelined, the Cardinals would use Craig regularly at first base when he does return.
Despite optimism late in Spring Training that Craig would not need to start the year on the DL, he is poised to come off right at the time the Cardinals had initially projected when the first baseman/outfielder underwent November knee surgery.
Craig entered Sunday 7-for-20 in his first five games in the Minors. Throughout his time away from the team, Craig has stayed in regular touch with Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire to talk about approach and swing mechanics.
While Craig will have a position to start at when he rejoins the club, finding him a spot in the lineup will be Matheny's other task. Craig would profile well as a two-hole hitter, but Jon Jay has thrived hitting there lately. Matheny is not expected to tinker with the middle of the order, meaning that Jay or Craig would likely drop down to hit seventh.
"It'll work itself out, wherever it is," Matheny said. "We've been looking forward to getting him back since we started talking about it."