Cards expect three key pieces back soon

Moss, Carpenter, Peralta could return from injury Aug. 2

Cards expect three key pieces back soon

ST. LOUIS -- While other clubs are exploring potential trade targets as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, the Cardinals appear poised to make their most impactful additions from within.

General manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny expressed optimism Sunday that three key offensive contributors -- Brandon Moss, Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta -- could return from the disabled list by Aug. 2, the day after the Trade Deadline.

Moss (left ankle sprain) and Carpenter (right oblique strain) are on track to begin Minor League rehab assignments later this week, Mozeliak confirmed. Carpenter was out running the bases and sliding Sunday afternoon, and he took part in on-field batting practice for the first time since suffering the injury July 7. Moss' last obstacle is running the bases pain-free.

Peralta, Mozeliak said, is likely to join the Cardinals in Miami later in the week to have his rehab work monitored by members of the Major League training staff. Peralta, who has told the Cardinals that he would prefer not to participate in a Minor League rehab assignment, is not eligible to come off the DL until Aug. 2.

Of the possibility of getting all three players back by that date, Mozeliak said: "Any way you look at it, it certainly strengthens your club."

A potential return date for the team's other injured position player, catcher Brayan Pena, is less obvious. Pena continues to rehab his left knee at the team's Florida complex, and the Cardinals, given how quickly Pena aggravated the injury earlier this month, intend to be patient with that rehab process.

On the pitching side, right-hander Jordan Walden did not travel to St. Louis, as previously discussed, to be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff this month. Walden, who has been out since Spring Training with a right shoulder strain, instead told the club he did not feel like he was far enough along in his rehab to make a follow-up visit necessary.

The most recent report Mozeliak received regarding Walden was that he was throwing at a distance of 120 feet on flat ground and hopeful of being cleared to move to the mound around the end of the month.

Down in the Minors, left-hander Tim Cooney has been diagnosed with a Bennett lesion and is expected to undergo a season-ending shoulder scope soon. Cooney has endured shoulder discomfort since Spring Training and never did make a Triple-A start this season.

Cooney is expected to recover from the surgery with enough time to be uninhibited by the time camp opens next February.

The Cardinals are about to add to their Triple-A pitching depth, though, with the return of Jeremy Hefner. Hefner, who was shut down after his May 29 start due to right shoulder inflammation, made two appearances with the Gulf Coast League club this month and has been cleared to throw five innings in a game for Triple-A Memphis this week.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.