Matheny returns to dugout after back surgery

Matheny returns to dugout after back surgery

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny was back in uniform on Thursday, three days after he underwent surgery to alleviate pain and numbness being caused by a ruptured disc in his lower back.

Matheny said he does not expect to miss any more of the club's spring games, though he has been told to limit his activities and exertion. Matheny has been told not to lift anything that weighs more than five pounds, and he is precluded from throwing batting practice.

"They've been trying to scare me the last couple of days about how easy I have to take it for the next eight weeks that would help the chances of not having to do anything else," Matheny said. "I'm going to go pretty easy here for a while."

It will benefit him, too, that the Cardinals don't have to travel for a Grapefruit League game for another week. That means that Matheny can avoid bus rides for a while longer.

During Monday's surgery, which lasted about 90 minutes, the surgeon found and removed four disc fragments that were putting pressure against a nerve. If all goes as expected with the recovery, Matheny will not need to undergo any additional procedures.

"I was impressed with how much better I felt right away, but I still have a long way to go," Matheny said. "As much as I was going to try to put it off, it wasn't going to get better on its own. It had to be taken care of."

While he was absent, Matheny watched Monday's game on television and listened to Tuesday's game on the radio. He traveled back to Jupiter on Wednesday, which was an off-day for the team. In his place, bench coach Mike Aldrete stepped in as acting manager.

"I felt like I bailed on them," Matheny said. "I was able to follow them pretty close, but it's not quite the same, especially as we get to this point where we're getting some of our last looks on some of these guys."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.