MIL@STL: Gast hurls 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball

SAN DIEGO -- Though the Cardinals are currently piecing together a rotation that is missing two of its Opening Day starting five, the club does not anticipate using Thursday's off-day to tweak the starters' order.

Manager Mike Matheny said that giving everyone in the rotation the extra day of rest can help balance the high pitch counts and larger innings load that several of the starters have already carried this year. The club is also bracing for another 17 straight days with a game after Thursday.

"Any free day is going to be one we try to take advantage of," Matheny said on Monday. "We have a long stretch here."

By turning the rotation over without any changes, that would leave John Gast in line to start on Saturday. It would be his third spot start in place of right-hander Jake Westbrook, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow injury.

Rosenthal's heavy workload not a concern to Cards

STL@MIL: Rosenthal fans Maldonado to hold the lead

SAN DIEGO -- With his third appearance in three days on Sunday, Trevor Rosenthal pushed his season total to 23. It's a pace that the rookie reliever will not be able to maintain, even though manager Mike Matheny has said that he has no concerns right now about the heavy workload that Rosenthal continues to carry.

Those 23 appearances by Rosenthal ranked third among all National League relievers heading into Monday's slate of games. Rosenthal's 22 1/3 innings pitched were ninth most in the league. If he were to keep up this pace, Rosenthal would pitch in 87 regular-season games.

But the Cardinals aren't concerned with numbers. Instead, their immediate priority is evaluating how Rosenthal bounces back after each outing.

"I would say that he's one of the physically strongest guys that we have," Matheny said. "The way that he has worked has prepared him for this. We'll continue to watch him. Any signs that it's affecting him, we'll change course. But right now, he's doing a great job. He prepared to be a starter this year. He prepared for 200 innings. We're not going to get him that, but we're going to get him an opportunity to help us win."

The Cardinals have leaned heavily on Rosenthal so far this season because of how reliable he has become as the team's eighth-inning setup man. He ranks second in the NL with 13 holds and tops NL relievers with 32 strikeouts. His 33 percent swing-and-miss number is the best in the league.

"I feel like it's been good for me to get out there and pitch frequently," Rosenthal said on Monday. "Obviously, having a chance to contribute to a lot of team wins is fun, too. I feel like I have learned a lot by doing that. I feel good so far physically."

Rosenthal said he has adapted his workout routine as a way to compensate for the workload. He has cut down on the time he spends in the weight room and is more concerned with maintaining muscle than he is focused on putting more on, as he did this offseason. Rosenthal's objective in his workouts now is to do enough to get loose, but not so much that he tires.

"Because I've never done this type of role before, I'm still trying to get a feel for it," Rosenthal said. "Right now, I feel good. And hopefully I'll answer that question the same in October. I'm expecting that work to pay off."

Freese, originally in lineup, scratched as precaution

MIL@STL: Freese tags out Aoki trying to steal home

SAN DIEGO -- David Freese participated fully in the Cardinals' pregame batting practice and infield fielding/throwing drills at Petco Park on Monday. However, for precautionary reasons, manager Mike Matheny pulled the third baseman out of the starting lineup due to some swelling on his right hand.

Freese suffered a gash near his right thumb on Sunday when he was spiked while chasing down and applying a tag on Milwaukee's Norichika Aoki in the first inning. Freese played the rest of the game but needed to receive three stitches to close the cut afterward.

On Monday, the area around the stitches was swollen. Freese wore a white gauze bandage while doing his pregame work.

"It's fine," Freese said. "Just a little swollen. But I can do everything."

Though Freese was in the first lineup the Cardinals posted in the clubhouse on Monday afternoon, Matheny later changed his mind and inserted Ty Wigginton to start at third base and bat seventh. Freese was deemed available off the bench, if needed.

Another day, Westbrook passes another rehab test

COL@STL: Reporter on Westbrook heading to the DL

SAN DIEGO -- After another pain-free, flat-ground throwing session on Monday, Jake Westbrook is hopeful that he can return to the mound on Tuesday for his first side session since being shut down due to elbow inflammation and biceps tendinitis.

Westbrook said he made 50 throws from a distance of 90 feet on Monday, shortly before the Cardinals opened up a series against the Padres at Petco Park. A day earlier, Westbrook played catch at 60 feet.

The veteran right-hander is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Friday, though he'll need more time than that to get his arm built back up after nearly a two-week layoff. Whether he'll be sent out to make a start in the Minors before returning has not yet been decided, Westbrook said.

His turn in the rotation comes up next on Saturday, though John Gast is scheduled to pitch in Westbrook's place for a third time. Westbrook is hopeful that Saturday's start is the last one that he will have to miss.

Worth noting

• Farm director John Vuch said the organization is anticipating seeing top prospect Oscar Taveras back on the field Wednesday after an extend absence with a right ankle sprain. Taveras rolled his ankle on May 13 sliding into second and has not played for Triple-A Memphis since. At the time of his injury, Taveras was batting .317 with a .351 on-base percentage.

• According to a Cardinals spokesperson, left-hander Jaime Garcia is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to receive another opinion on his injured left shoulder. Garcia was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a left shoulder strain. Garcia sought Andrews' opinion on the same injury last season before eventually taking his recommendation to try to rehab without surgery.

• Tyler Lyons, who will make a spot start for the Cardinals on Wednesday, is expected to join the team in San Diego on Tuesday.