General manager John Mozeliak told The Associated Press it's likely Ankiel will return by the weekend. Ankiel was eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, and manager Tony La Russa ruled him out for Thursday as well.
When he comes back, La Russa said, Ankiel will probably be in right field for a while. The manager considered it "one less issue for peace of mind."
Ankiel was carted off the field at Busch Stadium on May 5 with his head and neck immobilized after slamming into the wall a few steps after running down a liner by the Phillies' Pedro Feliz.
Ankiel had been rehabbing in extended spring training since last weekend. He said he wouldn't change his aggressive playing style when he does return to the lineup.
"You've got to go out there and play," he said. "In Florida I didn't have many opportunities to really chase anything down towards the wall, but I don't feel like it'll affect me."
The Cardinals have options at center field, though, to ease Ankiel back. Rookie Colby Rasmus has played well in center field during Ankiel's absence and had hit three two-run homers in five games entering Wednesday night's game against the Cubs.
Ankiel's work was abbreviated Tuesday because of rain, and the Cardinals decided to hold off activating him even before he worked out prior to Wednesday night's game. La Russa said he spoke to Ankiel on the telephone earlier in the day.
"No way he should play today," the manager said. "He didn't do enough down there to get pushed and he needs to push himself here, so we're going to err on the side of caution."
Ankiel is recovering from a bruised right shoulder and other injuries. He lined balls to all fields during an early batting practice session Wednesday, including some long homers, and said throwing was not a problem, either.
But he said he feels soreness when he swings and misses.
"The slowing down part, that gets a little sore," Ankiel said. "We're trying to work through it and hopefully I'll be ready soon."
Meanwhile, ace right-hander Chris Carpenter, on the DL since April 15, started against the Cubs on Wednesday night. Carpenter had pulled a left ribcage muscle and returned without a rehab start or facing hitters after a rainout Friday forced the team to shuffle the rotation.
"It's not the perfect way to set him up," La Russa said. "But with the rainout we have a spot and he's healthy to do it."
The Cardinals optioned rookie outfielder Shane Robinson to Triple-A Memphis and will go with 13 pitchers for the time being, partly because of uncertainty surrounding Carpenter. Robinson batted .240 with one RBI in 25 at-bats.