Jhonny Peralta hits the rehab trail

ST. LOUIS -- There could be help on the way for the St. Louis Cardinals' unreliable infield defense, as steady shortstop Jhonny Peralta will begin his minor-league rehabilitation assignment Friday at Class-A Peoria.

Peralta could be in the minor leagues for a while as this will be the equivalent of his spring training. He tore a thumb ligament on March 5 and had surgery five days later. The maximum stay for a rehab assignment by rule is 20 days, so even if Peralta maxes it out, he will be back by early June. The team originally braced for being without him until sometime around the All-Star break.

"It's a little different from your typical rehab stint in that you have to figure out how to get yourself in playing situations and playing shape, which he hasn't been in," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Also of note, Matheny said that Peralta will play some games at third base. The Cardinals are exploring ways to improve their infield play. They lead the major leagues with 36 errors and 31 of those have been made by infielders.