Freese, a third baseman acquired from San Diego in the Jim Edmonds trade before last season, is the leading candidate to replace Troy Glaus for the first month or so of the season after Glaus underwent arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 21 to smooth a muscle tear near his right shoulder.
Glaus will be sidelined approximately 12 weeks. If Glaus had been healthy, Freese probably would have started the season again at Class AAA Memphis, although in 2010, it was expected that he and Brett Wallace, a first-round draft pick last year, would battle for the third base job.
With such organizational depth at that position, including Allen Craig (22 homers, .304 at Class AA Springfield), the Cardinals are unlikely to re-sign Glaus after his contract expires this year.
The Glaus surgery came as a surprise. Glaus, honored at the St. Louis Baseball Writers' dinner, had said it was "awesome" to be enjoying a healthy winter. Glaus, however, had suffered some discomfort in the shoulder while working out in December. The discomfort was not alleviated by a cortisone shot, so he had surgery performed by Los Angeles Angels orthopedist Lewis Yocum.
The 12-week estimate for his recovery is uncertain.
"It could be shorter; it could be longer," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Frankly, we didn't even know (surgery) was a possibility until recently."
Glaus, who hit .270 with 27 homers and 99 RBIs last year, is expected to participate in baseball-related activities for part of spring training. However, it believed the 12-week estimate does not cover a probable injury-rehabilitation assignment.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RHP Chris Carpenter, beset by elbow and shoulder problems the last two seasons, said he was on schedule for spring training. "I feel great. I feel like it's a regular winter," he said. "It might be different three weeks from now or a month or now when I get off the mound, but right now, I feel like it's a normal offseason. My shoulder feels great. I have no issues whatsoever."
--2B Adam Kennedy, who had to be asked to be traded but wasn't, appears to be the regular at that position by default because Felipe Lopez and Aaron Miles both signed elsewhere as free agents. However, Kennedy, who hit .280 last season but lost his job late in the season, said the position "is to be earned. And I plan on doing that. Especially over the last couple of years, I've realized that every at-bat, every game, I need to make a point and make an issue to continue to be in the lineup."
--The Cardinals reduced their list of potential arbitration cases to two by signing RHPs Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson and OF Chris Duncan. Wellemeyer, 13-9 last season, received the biggest bump, going from the $400,000 range to $4.05 million. OFs Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick exchanged arbitration figures with the club.
--1B Albert Pujols, the 2008 National League Most Valuable Player, wants to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March, but he may not play if he isn't insured. There is a question if players who are coming off surgery (Pujols had a nerve transposition near his right elbow) will be insured by a independent agency. Major league clubs do not insure players for such exhibitions, and general manager John Mozeliak said, "I would strongly suspect at this point we would be opposed to a player of that magnitude participating" without coverage.
--C Yadier Molina and RHP Joel Pineiro are on Puerto Rico's provisional roster for the WBC. OF Ryan Ludwick is on the United States' roster, although Ludwick has said he doesn't want to play in the WBC, preferring to remain in spring training with the Cardinals.
BY THE NUMBERS: 31 -- Blown saves and losses by the Cardinals bullpen last year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You hate to project numbers, but you'd think it would be worth 15 to 20 more wins to have him for a full season." -- 2B Adam Kennedy, on the potential availability of RHP Chris Carpenter.
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