Ryan to remain in Jupiter

Ryan to remain in Jupiter

JUPITER, Fla. -- Potential infield regular Brendan Ryan, still bothered by sore ribs, will stay here to get healthy when the Cardinals leave to commence the regular season.

Ryan was informed by the club on Thursday morning. The news did not come as a shock since he has not played in a game since March 17, when he was injured diving into third base against the Braves.

Ryan initially didn't realize he had hurt his ribs because Braves backup third baseman stepped so violently on his right hand, causing three puncture wounds. But in the days since, Ryan has found it difficult to swing a bat pain-free.

"It's mostly just tightness now," Ryan said before the Cardinals played the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday. "It's a matter of explosion. I still can't exactly explode [on my swing] when I need to. But it's getting better."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa envisions Ryan staying here for treatment at least through Sunday, but believes he'll be able to join the club shortly thereafter.

"He's got a nice, short stroke," La Russa said. "He's been taking ground balls, so I don't think it'll be long."

Ryan, who impressed the Cardinals last season by hitting .289 in 180 at-bats, batted .278 this spring in 36 chances. Thus, the Cardinals' Opening Day shortstop will be Cesar Izturis, a .189 hitter this spring who hit .246 with the Cubs last season.

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Ryan obviously is anxious to build this season on the promise he established last year.

"Hopefully, I'll wake up one day soon and this injury will be gone," he said. "I just want to contribute, just want to be part of the team."

He still is a rookie, officially and certainly in the Cardinals clubhouse. That much was made clear to him Thursday as he was nearly side-swiped by a motorized cart driven by a coach.

"It's called tough love," Ryan said, smiling. "They're just letting me know they're nearby."

Ryan will have plenty of company at the club's Spring Training headquarters. The Cardinals are leaving behind five rehabbing pitchers. They include starters Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Matt Clement and Joel Pineiro and reliever Josh Kinney.

Of the five, Pineiro appears closest to joining the team. He's slated to pitch Saturday in a Minor League game. La Russa said he expects to have them all back before the season's first half is over.

A fifth starter, Braden Looper, will stick around to pitch on Sunday before rejoining the team. Ryan would like to be able to go with him.

Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.