Berkman expects to come off DL on Friday

Berkman expects to come off DL on Friday

PHOENIX -- Having cleared all running tests, first baseman Lance Berkman (left calf strain) said he expects to be activated from the disabled list on Friday.

Berkman, who began jogging again late last week, increased that work to full sprints on Tuesday. He felt no pull in his calf muscle and repeated the sprinting work again on Wednesday. If Berkman does come off the DL on Friday, the stint will have lasted 22 days. Berkman missed 21 days with the same injury in 2009.

When Berkman returns, it will mark the first time this season that the Cardinals have been at full strength with their position players. Skip Schumaker, Allen Craig and Berkman all spent various lengths of time on the DL through these first five weeks of the season.

That also means that manager Mike Matheny will have to get clever in divvying up playing time. The Cardinals want to keep Craig regularly involved, though that becomes more difficult when Berkman returns to his place at first base.

"It hasn't defined itself," Matheny said of Craig's potential playing time. "It's a good problem to have. We have that kind of roster where we're going to have to give guys days [off]. It's good to have that depth."

Berkman is not expected to play every day immediately upon returning, so that should open up some playing for Craig initially. Craig can also slide into the outfield when Matheny opts to give any one of his starting outfielders a break.