Cardinals place Duncan (neck) on DL; Wainwright (finger) throws

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals placed Chris Duncan on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a bulging disc in his neck. It's the latest setback for a player who totaled 43 homers his first two major league seasons but has just six this year.

Duncan, batting .248 with 27 RBIs in part-time duty, said the neck has been bothering him for a while but had been tolerable until after Monday night's game when he couldn't sleep and then woke up with stiffness. He also reported shooting pain down his right arm.

The news was more positive for right-hander Adam Wainwright, who threw his first bullpen session since going on the DL on June 8 with a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand. Wainwright threw 40 pitches at 70-75 percent effort, is scheduled for at least two more bullpen sessions on Thursday and Saturday, and could be back in the rotation in two weeks or so.

"It's a big step for me, really testing it on the mound," Wainwright said. "It's pretty exciting, actually."

The Cardinals are hopeful both Wainwright, the Opening Day starter this year, and Chris Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young winner who threw four innings for Double-A Springfield in his first rehab start on Sunday, will both be in the rotation by early August. Wainwright said he thought Carpenter, who had reconstructive elbow surgery last July, would be the first to return.

Duncan, 27, the son of pitching coach Dave Duncan, hit 22 homers in about half a season in 2006 and then had 21 last year before being slowed by a sports hernia that required surgery in September. He's never really regained his stroke, and in May he was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to allow him a chance to work out his difficulties.

"Bad luck, I guess," Duncan said. "I'll be all right, though. Hopefully in a few days I'll feel better and then we'll go from there."

The team administered a cortisone shot on Tuesday along with other therapy. Duncan made a nice running catch in left field in Monday's game before being removed in a double switch that was unrelated to the injury.

"This morning I couldn't move," Duncan said. "It just got worse over night and this morning it was enough pain that I had to get shot in there."

Manager Tony La Russa did not think it would be a long absence.

"He's been dealing with it but it got really bad because he was in all kinds of pain," La Russa said. "They're going to great it and they think in two weeks he'll be back."

The Cardinals outfielder Joe Mather from Triple-A Memphis. Mather, beginning his third stint with the team, was batting .244 with two homers and five RBIs in 20 games, and went 5-for-16 with a home run in four games with Memphis after being optioned last Friday.