Edmonds took a step forward in the rehab of his right shoulder on Sunday. The St. Louis center fielder took batting practice on a practice field for the first time. He had been swinging in the batting cage, but Sunday marked the first time he stepped up to field work.
"I'm definitely not trying to overdo anything," Edmonds said. "That was really my first day swinging. The tee work and stuff doesn't do any kind of justice to hitting. It's just tee work. It's a long way away from taking actual batting practice and taking things at game speed. So I was just really trying to glide the bat through the zone and not get hurt."
Edmonds acknowledged Sunday that a great deal will have to go right for him to be ready to play on Opening Day.
"Things have got to be pretty dead-on," he said.
"It would be great to be able to play Opening Day, but I'm not going to lose my cool if something doesn't go perfectly as planned and I don't make it. If I make it, I make it. If I don't, I don't. I'm striving for it, and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I can't risk injury and missing two months versus missing maybe an extra week."
Swinging is the greatest test for Edmonds' shoulder. He underwent a cleanup procedure in the labrum of his non-throwing shoulder early in the winter. His swing appeared to be unaffected by any injury, but he acknowledged he feels weakness in the joint at this early juncture.
The bigger limiting issue at this point is the later operation Edmonds had to correct a "hammer toe" condition in the second toe of his left foot. His running and fielding remain significantly limited.
He's begun doing some running, though not a great deal.
"Right now I'm just trying to go through the first couple days of everything," he said. "My legs are heavy and I'm trying to run. My shoulder is weak and I'm trying to swing. So I'm just trying to get caught up."
Eckstein sits, Miles returns: After some hope was raised that David Eckstein might return to the starting lineup Sunday, he will instead be held out of the game against Atlanta. Eckstein's target day for returning to action is now Tuesday.
Eckstein took another extensive and aggressive batting practice session and came out feeling fine.
"Everything is on track," he said. "Everything feels real good. That's where we're at right now."
Manager Tony La Russa wants his shortstop to make the trip across Florida to Fort Myers on Tuesday, but doesn't want Eckstein to play two straight days after sitting out for more than a week. Thus, Eckstein will sit Monday at home even if he's ready, and play Tuesday on the road.
Eckstein said the biggest question for him was full-exertion running, which he did Monday.
"The big thing for me was actually getting out there and going full speed," he said. "We ran the bases today, going first to third, running the bases with that angle and that little tilt to the body. I felt good doing that today. We did some full-speed, straight ahead afterwards. And I'm sure we're going to do a little something tomorrow, and hopefully be ready to go Tuesday."
One middle infielder is already back in use for St. Louis. Aaron Miles, who missed two days due to some gastrointestinal distress, got the start at second base Sunday.
Schumaker pulled: Outfielder Skip Schumaker was removed from Sunday's game against Atlanta due to a sprained left ankle. In the third inning, Schumaker attempted to beat out a base hit on a ball he hit to shortstop. As he crossed the bag, he turned his ankle. Schumaker left the game immediately.
"I hit the bag with my ankle instead of my foot," Schumaker said.
"It's not serious. It swelled up pretty good, but it's nothing major. The X-rays were fine and everything. It's fine."
Carp cruises: Ace Chris Carpenter enjoyed by far his sharpest outing of the spring Sunday. Carpenter breezed through 4 2/3 innings, getting 12 outs on the ground with two hits, no walks and a strikeout.
"It was better," he said. "I felt like as the game went along I got more comfortable and more in rhythm. My timing was better. I definitely felt good. So it was nice."
Carpenter, who put in a great deal of work refining his changeup in his first two starts, changed his approach a bit Sunday. He put more emphasis on incorporating his entire repertoire, and attacking hitters more like he would during the season.
"You're still trying to locate the ball down in the strike zone and get grounders," he said. "Outs are big deals. How you get them doesn't matter. But I'm not going to complain about getting the ball on the ground."
Encarnacion progresses: Juan Encarnacion, who had surgery on his left wrist over the winter, is making steady progress. Encarnacion, like Edmonds, hit on the field off coaches during Sunday's workout.
Encarnacion continues to feel a bit of discomfort in his wrist at times, but he's advancing in his rehabilitation. He's moved from soft-toss to hitting in the batting cage to taking batting practice on the field.
"It's not normal, but that's why we're progressing," Encarnacion said. "I've missed a lot of time."
Cuts to come: The Cardinals will announce six cuts on Monday morning, though due to contractual regulations they were not permitted to release the names on Sunday. Among the players cleaning out their lockers on Sunday were left-hander Troy Cate, righty Mike Smith and third baseman Travis Hanson.
Bits and pieces: Sunday marked the first day this spring that a Cardinals pitcher batted for himself. St. Louis and Atlanta are not using the designated hitter now that pitchers are staying in games long enough to take a couple of at-bats. ... St. Louis starters have a 1.30 ERA so far this spring. ... The Cardinals turned a 5-6-4 double play on a bunt on Sunday afternoon. With men on first and second, Scott Rolen fielded Kyle Davies' sacrifice attempt, fired to shortstop Brendan Ryan to get the out at third, and Ryan threw to Miles covering at first for out No. 2.
Weather report: For the first time in quite a long time, there's a chance of some rain Monday. The forecast calls for a first-pitch temperature of 79 degrees, some clouds and a 30 percent chance of rain.
Coming up: Monday will bring the second half of the Cards-Braves miniseries at Roger Dean Stadium. John Smoltz will take the mound for Atlanta, with Braden Looper hurling for the host Cardinals. Looper, who has 10 at-bats in his big league career, may be more challenged by taking his cuts off Smoltz than by pitching to the Braves lineup.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less