The Cardinals lost more than a game Sunday afternoon.
Third baseman David Freese will likely be placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday after being hit by a pitch and breaking a bone in his left hand in the Cardinals' 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Freese, who is hitting .356 this season, was plunked on the top of his left hand by Braves reliever Scott Linebrink with one out in the sixth inning. The ball bounced high into the air as Freese dropped the bat in obvious and immediate pain.
He remained in the game to run the bases following a lengthy discussion with assistant athletic trainer Barry Weinberg and manager Tony La Russa but was removed when the Cardinals took the field.
"I learned a long time ago, I'd much rather lose a game than lose a player and get a guy hurt," La Russa told reporters on the FOX Sports Midwest postgame show. "The worst part of this one is David Freese. That's really hard to take for our team and for him after what he's done to get ready. That's very, very upsetting. Losing the game was secondary to losing Freese."
X-rays taken during the game revealed a broken bone in Freese's left, glove hand. He will be reevaluated in St. Louis on Monday by the Cardinals head team physician, Dr. George Paletta.
Allen Craig returned to St. Louis Sunday following a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield and appears the likely candidate to replace Freese on the roster.
The Cardinals won't know until Monday whether or not surgery will be needed but Freese could miss at least four weeks should that be the case.
"It didn't feel too good," Freese told reporters. "It didn't sound too good. Right when it happened I knew something was up. …They told me my hand is broken. I'll go back and see the doctor tomorrow. I got X-rays earlier over there and we'll go from there.
"The bone is on top of the other bone kind of deal. We'll go to Paletta's tomorrow and see what they have to say. I may need surgery to speed up the process but I think they are kind of saying it's the same bone that (Brian) Tallet broke, that kind of deal."
Reliever Brian Tallet is getting close to returning from the disabled list after breaking a bone on his right, non-throwing hand while tumbling to the ground during a collision at first base in Arizona on the first road trip of the season.
The injury is another setback in a tough career for Freese, who played in just 70 games last season before eventually having surgeries on both of his ankles. He also missed significant time while dealing with an ankle injury in 2009.
"Keep plugging away," Freese said. "I try to stay positive. It's about the team. I'm going to be OK. I want to be out there for the guys. We'll just keep going."
Daniel Descalso appears in line to get most of the playing time at third base. Nick Punto could play third as well, but left Sunday's game with mild tightness in his left hamstring.
The Cardinals have been plagued by injuries all season long. Adam Wainwright was lost for the season in spring training and Punto spent the first three weeks on the disabled list. Tallet, reliever Bryan Augenstein, Craig and second baseman Skip Schumaker are all currently on the disabled list with injuries as well.
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