The temptation while watching St. Louis first baseman Allen Craig is to wonder if he’ll be able to play regularly this spring after failing to get an at-bat last year in spring training while recovering from knee surgery.
But manager Mike Matheny and Craig said his omission from the starting lineup for the first two games was purely precautionary.
“We realize it throws out a whole lot of caution flags and it throws out a lot of headlines,” Matheny said Sunday. “Those are risks we’re willing to take to make sure we’re real cautious. Sometimes a little bit of extra time goes a long way.”
Craig has been dealing with a sore right shoulder. After sitting out Saturday’s spring opener he had two at-bats with an RBI single Sunday in a 5-3 loss to Boston.
Craig replaced Rafael Furcal in the sixth inning as the designated hitter and hopes to play the field soon.
“We know we have a long spring, it’s a long season,” Craig said. “If you have a little bit something barking we’re just going to take it slow.”
Craig played in 119 games in his breakout 2012 season after missing the first month of the season. He hit. 307 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI.
Craig and the rest of the Cardinals faced an impressive Boston pitching contingent Sunday.
The Red Sox started Jon Lester followed by Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, closer Joel Hanrahan, set-up man Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa and Rubby De La Rosa, who hit 100 on the radar gun.