Injuries, Classic creating spring obstacles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Between injuries and losing players to the World Baseball Classic, the Cardinals haven't had much of an opportunity to assemble an Opening Day-type lineup this spring.

Things seem to be looking up, though, with David Freese returning Monday after missing a week with a sore tailbone, reliever Fernando Salas back from the Classic and Matt Holliday (stomach flu) set to return as soon as Thursday. Even with those returns, the club is still without All-Stars Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina -- both of whom are playing for Puerto Rico in the Classic -- as well as reliever Mitchell Boggs (Team USA).

"It does in a sense [make it harder], but they are getting their work in, at least," pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said. "But we get them back here and get to evaluate them out here in our games, which is good."

Luckily, with an extended Spring Training this year, the Cards will still have time to click before Opening Day once they have the whole team back together -- whenever that time finally comes.

"It's weird in spring, when we all come down here and try to come together as a team and some guys are missing," second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "But we've still got a couple weeks left here, and once we get everyone back here and get the team rolling together, we'll definitely be ready to go."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.