Cardinals' Allen Craig nears return

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis first baseman Allen Craig is a potential option to be the Cardinals' designated hitter if they advance to the World Series, general manager John Mozeliak said Saturday.

Craig has been out since Sept. 4 with a ligament strain in his left foot, and has been inactive in each of the Cardinals' two postseason series so far. However, he visited foot doctor Robert Anderson in North Carolina and was cleared for increased baseball activities, Mozeliak said.

Dr. Anderson "believes we're at the point where we can start pushing this, and so is Allen," Mozeliak said.

So Craig, who has been hitting off a tee in recent days, took batting practice in the indoor cage Saturday and also played catch in the outfield.

The Cardinals are hopeful that if he continues to progress, he could be activated if they reach the World Series, largely to play a role as a pinch hitter. But when asked if there was a chance Craig could DH in the games in the American League park, Mozeliak replied: "The optimistic view is yes. He could be an option to be a DH."

However, the Cardinals continued to preach patience with an injury more common in football players and one that "initially, none of us was familiar with," the GM said.

"It's still a day-by-day thing," Mozeliak said. "We'll just see how this progresses. Every day is a new test. If he keeps passing, we'll keep pushing."

Craig led the Cardinals in RBIs with 97, despite missing the final three weeks of the season, largely due to his major league-best .454 average with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals don't anticipate that he'll be able to play in the field, however, until next season.