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Injured Cards Edmonds, Eckstein handling injuries

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jim Edmonds' first batting practice session
left him feeling far from optimistic that he'll be ready for
Opening Day.

Jim Edmonds Edmonds

The St. Louis Cardinals' center fielder is rehabbing from
offseason surgery on his right shoulder and left foot, and thus far
it's been slow going. With three weeks to go before the World
Series champions open the season on April 1, there's no timetable
yet for his first spring training appearance.

"It would be great to be able to play Opening Day, but I'm not
going to lose my cool if something doesn't go perfectly as
planned," Edmonds said Sunday. "If I make it I make it, and if I
don't, I don't.

"Things have got to be pretty dead-on."

Another injured Cardinal, shortstop David Eckstein, plans to
return from a pulled muscle on his right side Tuesday. Manager Tony
La Russa had been hopeful that Eckstein, limited to two at-bats
this spring by a recurrence of an injury that caused him to miss 26
games last year, could play Sunday against the Braves.

Eckstein said before the game that his return was delayed
another two days because Sunday was the first day he ran
full-speed. He's been out since the day after the spring opener on
March 1, and the plan calls for him to get two or three at-bats on
Tuesday.

The Cardinals likely would open the year with So Taguchi in
center field if the 36-year-old Edmonds needs more time. He's
playing catch-up after being in a walking cast for about a month
due to the surgery to correct a condition that required daily
numbing injections to get him through the postseason.

"I think what's making it harder is, the length of time I
stayed off my feet is making everything else tougher to come back
from," Edmonds said. "I haven't done anything.

"I didn't do one thing as far as total body fitness for a
couple of months."

La Russa didn't disagree with Edmonds' assessment.

"There's not much margin to miss much work and get ready," La
Russa said. "We'll take it one step at a time."

Edmonds led the Cardinals with 10 RBIs in the postseason after
batting .257 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs -- his lowest totals since
1999 -- in an injury-plagued 2006. He underwent surgery on his
non-throwing shoulder and his foot after agreeing to a two-year,
$19 million contract extension.

Edmonds was a bit apprehensive at the start of his batting
practice session on a back field and afterward judged his shoulder
weak and legs sore from running. The foot surgery corrected a
condition known as hammer toe, and he has a steel plate insert in
his shoe to prevent the toe from flexing. Edmonds expects the
shoulder to come around in a few more weeks.

"The legs are heavy when I try to run and the shoulder's weak
when I'm trying to swing, so I'm just trying to get caught up,"
Edmonds said. "But I guess anytime you do something for the first
time it's a step in the right direction.

"I just think maybe it's about time for my teammates to see me
on the field and hopefully look like I'm making progress."

Full-speed running was Eckstein's final hurdle to clear from his
latest injury. He tested it going first to third, running straight
ahead and finally on a resistance trainer.

"I've been throwing fine, but the big thing for me was actually
getting out there and running full-speed," Eckstein said. "It
wasn't that serious of a thing.

"If this was the season I probably would have been playing."