While injured Yadier Molina is heading for the sidelines, probably for the better part of the next two weeks with a slightly torn ligament in his left thumb, righthander Adam Wainwright will be coming off the sidelines.
Wainwright, presumed to be out for the season after he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon while exiting the batter's box in an April 25 game in Milwaukee, has been cleared by doctors to intensify his baseball activities.
The first such real activity is expected to take place this weekend when Wainwright pitches in a simulated game.
General manager John Mozeliak made it clear Monday night that Wainwright, if he pitches this season, would be working out of the bullpen rather than the rotation.
"It's bullpen, strictly," Mozeliak. "There's no chance that we could get him to start, given the time (left)."
Mozeliak, asked if Wainwright would be available in the postseason or before that, didn't rule out a regular-season appearance.
"It really depends on how this week goes," Mozeliak said. "We have two weeks left in the season so we'll see. I think I would have a much higher confidence level to have him throw 'in-season' before you would put him on the roster.
"He's awfully optimistic.
"If you'll recall last time he was in the bullpen (2006 postseason), he was pretty good. I would imagine it would look just like that."
Mozeliak said Wainwright, 34, had workd "very diligently over the last four for five months to get back to where he is. It shows you his commitment and desire to want to be on this club and contribute with this club."
Wainwright, said Mozeliak, would need to show that he could field his position, such as with bunt defenses and being able to cover first, but wouldn't have to run the bases because he probably wouldn't be hitting.
"Just being able to play your position is really your next test," Mozeliak said.
Asked if he would temper his expectations concerning Wainwright, Mozeliak said, "I would. But he won't. I'll meet him in the middle and I'll smile."
Wainwright had been saying for a long time that he would be pitching before the end of the season. "I try not to just blow smoke up everybody's tails," he said. "I'm getting ready to try and play.
"I'd never stopped working hard on trying to get back," said Wainwright, 2-1 with a 1.44 earned run average for four starts. Lately, he said he had been increasing his velocity and tempo, "to get them as close to game speed as I possibly could until I face hitters."
Perhaps a week or so from now, Wainwright may have a chance to prove nearly everyone wrong.
"Doctors give you these very safe numbers to protect you _ and them," he said. "But you can always shave off a couple of months if everything happens perfectly. Luckily, so far, everything has happened perfectly."