Back tightness forces Furcal out of lineup

Back tightness forces Furcal out of lineup

CHICAGO -- Describing his starting shortstop as "a little banged up right now," manager Mike Matheny indicated that Rafael Furcal, who sat on Saturday, will not be playing again on Sunday. The question is whether the veteran shortstop might be sidelined even longer.

Matheny specifically noted that Furcal is dealing with back tightness. Furcal, when approached following the Cardinals' 3-2 loss on Saturday, declined to answer any questions about his status, saying that he will wait to do so on Sunday. Furcal also dealt with a shin issue earlier this month.

The Cardinals knew when they re-signed Furcal during the offseason that they'd have to carefully monitor his playing time. The 34-year-old shortstop appeared in only 87 games last season while dealing with a variety of ailments. In fact, he has played 100 games in a season only once since 2007.

Nonetheless, the Cardinals have leaned on Furcal pretty hard to this point. He has started 92 of the team's 101 games and even played seven innings in the All-Star Game. It appears as if the club plans to back away from keeping up such a playing pace in order to give Furcal a better chance at being healthy through the end of the season.

Daniel Descalso, who has 11 hits in his last 30 at-bats, started at shortstop in place of Furcal on Saturday. He'll likely draw the same assignment in Sunday's series finale.