For the fourth straight game, Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup had to do without outfielder Carlos Beltran. Injury problems are a yearly concern for Beltran's employers, but his hot start—he's hitting .293/.404/.642 on the season—makes this all the more frustrating for his newest team, who signed him to a two-year, $26 million deal in the offseason as one of a raft of Albert Pujols replacements. Beltran's problem, this whole time, has been labeled as "knee soreness," but he's never been unwell enough to keep him out of the pinch hitter's role—he did it again Thursday, making an eventual retroactive disabled list move impossible.
Making matters worse, his replacement, Cardinals super-sub Allen Craig, is himself bound for the 15-day disabled list. The Cardinals could be stuck with Matt Carpenter, who seems ill-equipped for outfield work, and erstwhile second baseman Skip Schumaker as their primary right fielders if Beltran isn't prepared to return to the lineup soon. If nothing else, this means the Cardinals won't have much luck resting Lance Berkman.