ST. LOUIS -- Though Mark Ellis said he feels things are "definitely going in the right direction" with his injured left knee, the Cardinals' infielder is not expected to come off the disabled list on Friday, his earliest date of eligibility.
After sitting on the bench during the club's season opener in Cincinnati, Ellis returned to St. Louis, where he has been continuing to rehab and receive treatment to relieve the soreness brought on by left patella tendinitis. He had not resumed baseball activities until Monday, when Ellis took pregame swings in the batting cage.
"I had never had this before, so I had no expectations on how it would go," Ellis said. "I figured it would get better just from staying off of it and doing things to make it get better. But it's gone well. It's gone really well."
Ellis said he has been able to gauge improvement just through the increasing ease of completing everyday activities, like going up and down stairs. Movements that were painful when he first injured the knee in mid-March and then re-aggravated it during the final week of Spring Training are no longer so.
"Now that stuff is gone," Ellis said. "We're getting the soreness out of there. I guess there is a little bit of fluid in there, getting that out, too. I'm just taking this time, realizing that it's got to get better."
Ellis is expected to go out to one of the organization's affiliates before coming off the DL, though the Cardinals have not yet determined a start date for that Minor League rehab assignment. Because of time missed during Spring Training, Ellis can use the assignment to make up for some of those missed at-bats.
"The reports we get every day are very positive," manager Mike Matheny said. "Talking to him today, he said he feels real good. But as far as next step, we haven't talked with the training staff about that yet."
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.