Cards' Craig almost ready for return to Majors -

Cards' Craig almost ready for return to Majors

ST. LOUIS ( -- The St. Louis Cardinals could get a much-needed bat back this week.

Utility player Allen Craig may join the team Wednesday for the first time this season. Craig started the season on the disabled list  and has been rehabbing in the minor leagues for the last four weeks.

Although hoping to have joined the team earlier, the rehab means Craig is ready to produce right now for the Cardinals.

"I feel good out there right now. I'm ready to play," Craig said.

In just 28 at-bats between Class AAA and Class A, Craig batted .357 with three home runs.

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When Craig does return, he will certainly take over for Matt Carpenter as the fill-in for first baseman Lance Berkman. Craig played seven games last season at first, which is quite a few considering who was the starting first baseman last season.

The plate is where Craig really showed his ability last season. In 75 games and 200 at-bats, Craig hit .315 with 11 homeruns and 40 RBI. In the World Series he hit .263 with three homeruns and five RBI. His third home run gave the Cardinals the lead in Game Seven.

Of course everyone in the locker room will be happy to see Craig, but a team can't have a 26-man roster. The Cardinals have had a quality bench this season. So who gets sent down because of Craig's return?

Carpenter seems like the most logical choice. Although he is batting a respectful .267 with a homerun and 14 RBI and has played a solid first base, you can not ignore the other players roles on this team.

Tyler Greene is struggling at the plate but is a solid defender who can play at second, short, third and even the outfield. He also has no remaining minor-league options.

Shane Robinson has played great outfield defense and has only hit .419 this season! Robinson does have a remaining minor-league option.

Erik Komatsu would be the number one choice to send down to the minors if he wasn't protected by the Rule 5 draft pick. If the Cardinals send him down, they have to place him on waivers and offer him back to his original club, the Washington Nationals. Komatsu is batting .211 and is still looking for his first homerun and RBI.

No matter who goes down to the minors, that player will make a return this season at some point. The key for the Cardinals right now is getting Craig back. When he is in the line-up, it is safe to say that the Cardinals could be a more productive team.


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