Cardinals get big sluggers into lineup in Houston

Cardinals get big sluggers into lineup in Houston

Cardinals get big sluggers into lineup in Houston
HOUSTON -- Somewhat unexpectedly, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had no injuries or illness inhibiting him from writing Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday into the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Astros.

When the Cardinals left Chicago on Sunday, they did so with concern about the status of three of the team's biggest bats. Beltran was fighting a stomach illness, while Molina and Holliday were bothered by back tightness. None of the three played a full game on Sunday. In Molina's case, he wasn't cleared to even make an appearance.

But Beltran said he woke up Monday feeling much better. And Molina and Holliday were then cleared to play after passing a series of tests administered by the team's medical staff.

Molina's back tightness was brought on by an awkward jump out of the way of a Carlos Marmol pitch on Saturday. He came out of that game immediately.

"Anytime you know Yadi came out of a game, you hold your breath," Matheny said. "Then you realize the next day he can't go and play, it's usually something that has your attention for sure. It's amazing how quick he rebounds. The put him through the ringer [of tests] today and he came out with flying colors."

Holliday said his back bothered him throughout the team's last series. He started all three games in Chicago but was pulled late in the last two. He has been bothered by back tightness at various times this season.

Beltran was limited to a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday after coming down with an illness the night before.