Punto, Laird lifted due to injury
A Cardinals team already playing a bit short lost two players due to injury in the first four innings of its game against the Astros on Thursday night.
Infielder Nick Punto was lifted at the start of the fourth inning due to a strained left oblique muscle, continuing a frustrating year for the utilityman. Punto has already been on the disabled list twice, due to a sports hernia and a right forearm injury.
Two innings earlier, catcher Gerald Laird was due to what the club is calling a mild sprain of his left ring finger. Both players’ statuses were announced as day-to-day.
Laird started in place of Yadier Molina, who received a routine night off. He had a bit of a rough first inning, as Houston stole two bases and Laird was charged with a passed ball. But in the bottom of the second, he singled and scored.
After that, though, Laird did not come out for the third inning. Rookie Tony Cruz took his place behind the plate and in the No. 6 spot in the St. Louis batting order.
The Cardinals began the night short-handed because outfielder Lance Berkman is recovering from discomfort in his right shoulder. He received a cortisone injection on Wednesday and could be out until the weekend.