Jay moves closer to returning to Cards

Jay moves closer to returning to Cards

PHOENIX -- For the first time since being placed on the disabled list with a left wrist stress reaction, center fielder Jon Jay joined the Cardinals for on-field batting practice on Monday.

It was the latest tangible piece of progress for Jay, who has already missed 47 games during this second season stint on the DL. Jay wore a soft sleeve on his wrist while he hit and spent the rest of batting practice tracking balls in the outfield as he prepares to head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

"We'd like to see him be able to get this in gear and start giving us an option out there," manager Mike Matheny said. "Tommy [Pham] has done a nice job in center field, but we always like Jon Jay a part of our club."

The Cardinals have not set a time and place for Jay to begin that rehab assignment, but if the next few days pass without issue, Jay could be ready to start playing in games by the end of the week. The Cardinals intend to make this rehab assignment longer than Jay's previous one, which lasted just three games with Class A Peoria in May.

Also nearing the start of a rehab assignment is first baseman Matt Adams, who has been working through a rehab program in Florida since Friday. The Cardinals haven't announced when Adams will begin appearing in Minor League games, but Matheny did throw out an estimated date of "September 1st-ish" to return to action in the Minors.

Adams has been sidelined with a right quad strain since May 27. When he underwent surgery, the Cardinals estimated it would take him at least four months to return. He's just short of three months into that recovery.

Neither Matt Holliday (right quad strain), nor Randal Grichuk (right elbow strain), are as close to game play as the aforementioned pair.

As for Matt Belisle (right elbow inflammation), he left the team upon its arrival in Arizona to seek another opinion on his ailing elbow from Dr. James Andrew. Matheny insisted that Belisle's decision to have further tests was the result of the veteran reliever wanting to be thorough in his rehab process and not because of a setback. Belisle has been throwing on flat ground since the team's last homestand.

"This is a very unique kind of injury that has required a lot of different looks," Matheny said. "But he felt good while we were in San Diego, so that's a great sign."

Though the Cardinals have seven rehabbing players all eyeing late-season returns, the Cardinals are not anticipating anyone back before rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.