Cards' Freese makes first start since Monday

Cards' Freese makes first start since Monday

ST. LOUIS -- David Freese, who made a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday, passed all the necessary ankle tests in order to be cleared to return to the Cardinals' lineup on Sunday. It is Freese's first start since Monday, when he suffered a mild right ankle sprain while running in Houston's indoor batting cage just prior to first pitch.

Freese's only plate appearance since then came on Saturday, when he drew a seventh-inning walk. A pinch-runner took Freese's place on first so that he would not have to run the bases.

Despite the recent setback with his ankle, Freese is about to wrap up a mostly healthy 2012 campaign. Sunday will be Freese's 130th start at third base. Injuries in 2010-11 limited him to a combined 151 starts at this position during those two seasons.

"It's just a little hiccup," Freese said of the ankle sprain. "I'm very happy with what I've done and how much I've played this year compared to past years."

With Freese back in the lineup, the Cardinals' starting eight position players on Sunday are likely the same eight that would take the field in Friday's Wild Card game, assuming the Cardinals advance to the postseason. Carlos Beltran, after hitting in the six-hole, moves back to the No. 2 spot in the batting order.