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David Freese injury: Cardinals 3B may not return Monday

Cardinals third baseman David Freese may not be able to return for Monday's home opener.

USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are being cautious with David Freese, and manager Mike Matheny told reporters -- including Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- that the third baseman may not be ready in time for the team's home opener on Monday.

Freese was slowed down this spring three separate times by a back injury, which caused him to remain in extended spring training while his team began the regular season. Damage to his back hasn't been revealed, but Freese continues to recover from irritation and swelling. He's been treated with cortisone injections, and his back has responded well.

But Matheny told reporters that the Cardinals would like to see Freese play a complete game several times to insure that he won't aggravate his injury upon returning to his regular role in the majors. Since there are only two minor league games available between now and Monday, it would seem like the slugger could miss the home opener. Matheny wouldn't rule out Freese for Monday, but he admitted that the third baseman could require additional recovery time.

Freese hit .293/.372/.467 with 25 doubles and 20 home runs over 567 plate appearances last season for the Cardinals, earning his first All-Star selection. Over four seasons in the majors, the 29-year-old owns a career batting line of .296/.363/.446.

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