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Allen Craig could make the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster as a pinch-hitter

Mar 24, 2012, 1:59 PM EDT

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

The original expectation was that Allen Craig would miss the first month of the season following November surgery on his right knee, but it now appears that he is a realistic option for the Opening Day roster.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Craig took batting practice on the major league side this morning and is likely open the season as a pinch-hitter off the bench.

Craig began playing in minor-league games this week, though he has yet to play in the field. The Cardinals might not clear him for full-game action until mid-April or so, but he could still have some value as a right-handed bat. Once he’s fully-recovered, new Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny will have to find ways to fit him into the lineup. The most obvious possibility is sitting Jon Jay against tough left-handers while playing Carlos Beltran in center field and Craig in right.

Craig, 27, has a .290/.339/.503 batting line and an .842 OPS over his first 343 plate appearances in the majors. He clubbed four home runs during the Cardinals’ postseason run last year, including three against the Rangers in the World Series.

  1. spudchukar - Mar 24, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Not to say I told you so, but…

  2. hotdogfinger - Mar 24, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    this guy has got to be an every day player when he’s healthy

  3. cintiphil - Mar 24, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Oh, this is great news, but for who. It seems to get worse for the Reds. Next, we will hear that Joey is getting those nervous bouts again.

  4. drewsylvania - Mar 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    If only they had a DH…

  5. westcoastredbird - Mar 24, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Great news. He’s a valuable clutch hitter. Getting Waino back and losing Carp is a wash. Hopefully Carp will be at full strength for the stretch run. Whoever is giving Matt Adams all of those Hardee gift cards please stop before he eats himself out of the majors!

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