Abdominal strain keeps Ankiel from starting again

Monday, August 4, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Rick Ankiel missed his eighth straight start with an abdominal strain Sunday night, and wasn't sure when he'd be ready to return to the Cardinals lineup.

Batting .281 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs, Ankiel has been limited to pinch-hit appearances since he was injured. He struck out to end the game with the tying run on second base in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Saturday night, and drew a walk on Tuesday at Atlanta. He also pinch hit in the ninth inning of Sunday night's 5-4 loss to the Phillies.

"Hopefully, I wake up and it'll be go-time," Ankiel said. "It's day-to-day. I feel good and it's progressing and I'm just working to get back."

Ankiel said he wouldn't have been able to try legging out a hit if he'd have made contact against Phillies closer Brad Lidge on Saturday. The strikeout ended a nine-game hitting streak.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he used Ankiel on Saturday after training personnel told him they thought Ankiel would be ready to start again soon. He also was impressed at the intensity of Ankiel's workout Sunday.

"I saw him doing some work in the training room and it looked like it was pretty vigorous," La Russa said. "Whenever he's ready, he's ready.

"We don't want to hurry him. Those things are tricky."

Skip Schumaker started in center field, Ankiel's position, all three games of the weekend series against the Phillies.

Pitcher Adam Wainwright, on the 15-day disabled list since June 8 with an injury to the middle finger of his right hand, remained on track for a simulated game Tuesday with no ill effects from a bullpen session on Saturday that featured curveballs for the first time.

Wainwright expects to have a short rehab assignment if all goes well on Tuesday.

"Everybody who saw him was impressed, and he felt good, which is a heck of a sign," La Russa said.

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