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La Russa: Edmonds likely heading to DL

ST. LOUIS -- Jim Edmonds missed his fifth straight start
Wednesday with an abdominal injury and St. Louis Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa expects to be without the outfielder for a while.

A specialist diagnosed Edmonds' injury as a mild to moderate
abdominal wall strain, and the team said he would be re-evaluated
on Friday. Spokesman Brian Bartow said Edmonds was day-to-day and
that the team would wait until Friday, after a day off on Thursday,
to consider placing him on the 15-day disabled list.

Team doctors had struggled to pin down a diagnosis.

"I just don't know what to expect with Jimmy, but I know that
he's sore, and if he's sore we're better off backing him away and
getting him right," La Russa said. "It's not going to do him any
good.

"So I'd be surprised if he's on the active list come Friday."

The Cardinals are off Thursday and La Russa said the team likely would recall an outfielder from Triple-A Memphis. He said a
combination of So Taguchi, Larry Bigbie and Juan Encarnacion, who
made his first start of the season in center field on Wednesday,
could fill in for Edmonds defensively.

Team physician Dr. George Paletta said without a specific
diagnosis it's difficult to try to treat Edmonds, who was hitting
.241 with five homers and 29 RBI in 43 games. A few days ago, the
team also had suspected swollen lymph nodes as the source of
Edmonds' discomfort.

"We've ruled out a bunch of things based on the MRI which was
pretty much unremarkable," Paletta said. "It's hard to lay out a
specific timetable for his potential available."

If the injury is a sports hernia, Paletta said treatment would
vary depending on the severity. He said it was possible to get a
player through the season with a milder injury, although a more
severe case would require surgery.

"One of the mysteries of this whole sports hernia issue is the
anatomy of that area is extremely complex, and there are a variety
of things that can be involved," Paletta said. "The repairs are
not the same as a simple knee scope.

"So often times you can't lay out what the definitive recovery
is until after surgery."

Paletta said if surgery was required, recovery could take
anywhere from six weeks to six months.

The Cardinals were two players short in their 4-3, 11-inning
victory over Houston on Wednesday because utilityman Scott Spiezio
remained home for the second straight day due to illness that has
swept through the team in the last week or so.

Edmonds was not in uniform.

"If he's unavailable, we can't keep playing short," La Russa
said. "We're dodging some bullets, but that's not smart."

La Russa said he was "100 percent comfortable" with the
outfield candidates presently on his roster. Last year the
Cardinals made do after Reggie Sanders broke his leg, electing not
to make a major move.

"I'm confident we can be competitive with the outfielders we
have," La Russa said. "It's an opportunity for somebody to step
forward.

"That's how we always take it and I think that's one reason we
cope with it."