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Craig convinces Cards to insert him into lineup

Craig convinces Cards to insert him into lineup

Craig convinces Cards to insert him into lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Minutes after telling local reporters that "it would have been a pretty far stretch" to put Allen Craig in the field for Game 5 on Monday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched as Craig came out for batting and fielding practice to make his case. Craig would end up successful in that attempt.

Craig lobbied for inclusion in the lineup and then proved to the Cardinals that he had adequate mobility in the field. It was enough for St. Louis to make a late lineup change and replace Matt Adams with Craig in the sixth spot of the batting order.

"He pushed and wanted to," Matheny said. "We took him out and he responded well. He said, 'I want to do what I can to help this team. I think I can do this. I'm going to go out.' And we let him go. He felt pretty good."

Craig took a series of ground balls at first base and simulated moving to the bag to cover on a throw. It was the first time Craig had done any work in the field since his adventurous trip around the bases in Game 3. Before that, he had worked defensively just twice since suffering a Lisfranc foot injury on Sept. 4.

Before Craig re-aggravated his foot while running the bases on Saturday, the Cards had been eyeing the possibility that the first baseman would be ready to return for this game. With left-hander Jon Lester starting for the Red Sox, the much-preferred matchup was to have the right-handed-hitting Craig in the lineup over the left-handed Adams.

But the first lineup the Cardinals posted on Monday did not have Craig in it. Matheny was initially concerned that Craig would not have sufficient time to both test his foot and see how it responds. As it is, by hitting Craig sixth, the Cards will have flexibility in being able to remove him for a pinch-runner or late-game defensive sub should that need arise.

Craig, who is expected to return to a designated-hitter role once the series shifts back to Boston, is 4-for-9 in the World Series following a seven-week layoff. Craig had a pinch-hit single on Sunday but was removed before having to run the bases again.

"He felt better yesterday, much better than what he thought he was going to feel, and even better today," Matheny said. "So that's continued to move forward."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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