Craig off the disabled list and in the lineup

Craig off the disabled list and in the lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Following a seven-game rehab assignment, Allen Craig was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and immediately plugged into the lineup to play first base and hit seventh in the series opener against Pittsburgh.

In order to make room for Craig on the 25-man roster, the club designated Rule 5 outfielder Erik Komatsu for assignment.

Craig wrapped up his rehab stint with a three-hit, two-homer, five-RBI performance as Triple-A Memphis' first baseman on Monday. In his seven Minor League games -- three at high A and four in Triple-A -- he went 10-for-28. He played first base in each of his final two appearances.

"I've been feeling good in the box for a couple of nights," Craig said. "Last night was a good way to end my rehab assignment. I felt good about it."

With Lance Berkman on the DL, Craig is expected to get frequent starts at first base. He will not, however, play every day right away, despite his insistence that he feels capable of doing so.

Manager Mike Matheny will keep Matt Carpenter in the mix so as not to overwork Craig, who played no more than two consecutive days during his rehab assignment.

Craig also discarded any notion that his timetable was set back by a late March push to get him ready for Opening Day. Though he took an extended break from game play after the soreness in his surgically repaired right knee persisted, he is coming back as initially scheduled. When he underwent the surgery in November, the Cardinals projected that he'd come off the DL for the second month of the season.

"I lost a lot of strength when I had surgery, and ... [it] was a lot of hard work to get the leg strong," Craig said. "I'm in a good spot now and feel good about it. I have to be on top of maintaining that strength. Other than that, the knee feels great, and I'm not worried about it at all."

Though Craig can also play the corner outfield spots, he likely won't see any playing time there initially. With a healthy outfield and the opening at first base, the Cardinals have no need to push him more than is necessary.

"From the reports we're getting from Memphis, it looks like he's moving well and feels good," Matheny said. "He responded well to playing the field."