ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are not yet ready to make any official proclamation. But expect them to add a very important piece back to their lineup – one they've been without since Sept. 4 -- for Game 1 of the World Series in Boston on Wednesday night.
Clean-up man Allen Craig, who has been a spectator throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs, took another round of live batting practice Sunday and pronounced himself ready to go.
He is not expected to play in the field, but he will be the perfect guy to serve at the Cardinals' designated hitter.
“I feel good,” Craig said after hitting against Shelby Miller and Tyler Lyons in an afternoon workout at Busch Stadium. “There's steady progress going. I feel like I'm continuing to get better.
“I'm happy with where I'm at.”
This is a guy who hit 13 homers and had 97 RBI this season before going down with a ligament injury in his left foot on Sept. 4. All along, the Cardinals have been pointing toward a late October return.
“He's been the No. 4 hitter for us all season,” Cards manager Mike Matheny said. “This guy can drive in runs. He's another force for us.”
An NL All-Star this summer, Craig, 29, hit .315/.373/.457 with 29 doubles in 134 games. The Cards have gotten a boost over the past month from the play of Matt Adams at first base.
Now, the addition of the DH in the American League park probably suits St. Louis as well as any NL team ever in the World Series.
In addition to hitting, Craig ran the bases and worked on his leads and reads at first base. Hitting coach John Mabry doesn't expect the layoff to affect his hitting.
“Because his name is Allen Craig,” Mabry said. “You watch him do what he does every day, he knows what he's doing. He knows how to hit.”
Mabry said that “obviously, in a situation of this magnitude, he's going to have to control his emotions and be a pro, and he'll be able to do that.”
Catcher Yadier Molina called the addition of Craig “huge. Adding that bat to the lineup, he could be the difference.”