Ryan's injury improving every day

Ryan's injury improving every day

JUPITER, Fla. -- Brendan Ryan is feeling a little better every day, and he hopes to be back in games before the Cardinals begin the regular season. Ryan has not played since March 17, when he aggravated what had been nagging soreness in his right ribcage.

"It's based on how I feel," Ryan said on Tuesday morning. "I'm just trying to be as honest as I can. We're going to do some rotation stuff today, get in the cage a little bit, maybe take batting practice -- if not tomorrow, then definitely Thursday, if everything goes well. Hopefully play by Friday. It's getting really down to the wire."

Ryan received a cortisone shot on the irritated area on Saturday. He said he still has some soreness from the shot, but he believes the original injury is improving significantly.

With six days until the start of the regular season, Ryan's season-opening roster status remains in question. First, he must get healthy and then he needs to be in playing shape. And as day after day ticks off, the latter question becomes more of an issue. Tuesday marked eight straight days that Ryan did not appear in a game.

Still, general manager John Mozeliak said Tuesday that he's optimistic about Ryan's chances.

"If I were handicapping it, I would say he's more likely not to be [on the disabled list]," Mozeliak said.

Manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that if he is convinced Ryan is healthy, he is willing to put the infielder on the roster -- even if Ryan is a bit rusty from the time off.

A mitigating factor in the discussion is who would take Ryan's roster spot. The overwhelming favorite for that assignment is veteran D'Angelo Jimenez. However, Jimenez is a non-roster player, so he would need to be added to the 40-man roster if he were on the club on Opening Day. That would involve a commitment to pay Jimenez for the entire season. It would also mean that if the Cardinals wanted to send Jimenez down once Ryan is healthy, he would have to pass through waivers.

"It's a factor to consider because you'd be putting somebody on the roster that's not on the roster," La Russa said. "You're making a commitment to somebody. But the determining thing is, is [Ryan] ready to play or not? That's the No. 1."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.