PHOENIX -- Though Mike Matheny continues to receive encouraging reports about David Freese's work down in Florida, the Cardinals manager is not ready to promise the third baseman a place in the team's lineup for Monday's home opener.
That April 8 game remains a target date for Freese to come off the disabled list, though he still has checkpoints to pass before he is removed. One of the most important will be his ability to play nine pain-free innings and then recover appropriately. Freese, whose back injury traces back to a spill he took into the stands during a March 4 game, did not play nine innings in a Grapefruit League game this spring.
"We're not ruling out that he'll be there on Monday, but we're also not ruling out that he might need a little more time," Matheny said. "We're looking everything over. He's really kind of pushing the envelope of trying to be ready by Monday, and we wanted him to kind of push that. But we need to make sure that he's ready to play a full game before we risk bringing him back to St. Louis."
According to Matheny, Freese's back responded well to the cardio work he did on Tuesday. The Cardinals still tentatively plan to have Freese play in extended spring training games on Friday and Saturday.
"Obviously, we don't have our own eyes on him, so we're going to have to hear exactly what they're seeing and how he's moving," Matheny said. "We have to see how he bounces back. We just don't have a lot of time to get as much information as we need. We'll take everything into consideration."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.