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St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter watches a baseball game from the bench during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins, Monday, June 17, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

OAKLAND, Calif. — After several conversations with Matt Carpenter and a scouting report from a trusted colleague, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt suggested that the veteran leadoff hitter will be returning to the team “sooner rather than later.” That could mean at soon as Sunday.

Carpenter traveled Saturday to join the team in California that night, and he’s likely to be with them at Oakland Coliseum for the finale of the two-game interleague series against the Athletics.

The team had not yet decided Saturday night whether he’ll be activated for Sunday’s game, or if his return will be Monday when the Cardinals open a series at Dodger Stadium.

In the past 12 days, Carpenter has bounced between Class AAA Memphis and Class AA Springfield, recovering from a bruised foot and searching for his swing. He agreed to the rehab assignment with the purpose of reviving his production without the pressure of the standings.

This season, Carpenter has hit .215 with a .321 on-base percentage and a .693 OPS. All of those would be career lows. The former All-Star went two-for-26 (.077) with seven walks and eight strikeouts in nine rehab games. Both of those hits came Thursday, and he also had three RBIs in that game for Triple-A Memphis.

The Cardinals’ field coordinator Mark DeJohn, one of Shildt’s mentors in the organization, happened to be with Memphis this past week, and he offered a review of Carpenter’s swing after the Thursday game.

“DJ has got clarity of what the expectations are here,” Shildt said. “He called me after the game (and said), ‘This guy is ready to go. Looks good. Timing is good. Driving the ball (vs.) righties, lefties. Faced good arms.’ I spoke to Carpenter and he was real encouraged about where he is.”

EXTRA BASES

Yadier Molina (torn thumb tendon) started for Memphis on Saturday and continues to focus on work behind the plate as he ramps up his aggressiveness at the plate. He caught five innings and had a suicide squeeze bunt for an RBI. The Cardinals and Molina have worked out a schedule that will keep him on his rehab assignment at least for the start of this week. …

Activated in time to face his former team Saturday, Stephen Piscotty (sprained knee) returned to the A’s lineup for the first time since June 29. He was one of six players involved in a flurry of transactions by Oakland before Saturday’s game. …

Giovanny Gallegos received votes for the National League’s reliever of the month award. The righthander was 2-1 with a 0.69 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings during July. Mets reliever Seth Lugo won the honor.

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