JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -Juan Gonzalez has a minor abdominal strain, slowing his attempt to return to the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Manager Tony La Russa said Thursday he scratched 38-year-old Gonzalez from the lineup card a day earlier. Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP who missed the last two years and had only one at-bat in 2005, said he was day to day and receiving treatment before and after games.
Trainer Barry Weinberg said Gonzalez should be ready to resume his comeback attempt soon.
``We just want to keep him from overdoing it for a day or so,'' Weinberg said. ``It's a short-term thing.''
Gonzalez felt a pull on his left side more than a week ago and has difficulty running. He has been able to take batting and fielding practice.
``I've seen progress and today I'm running a little bit better,'' Gonzalez said. ``I just continue working hard. It's nothing big.''
Gonzalez is hitting .308 in 26 at-bats with one home run and five RBIs. He signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals and is battling for an extra outfield job along with Brian Barton and Joe Mather.
``One of the things he's got to show is the durability for the role he has,'' La Russa said.
Barton was batting .370 with a homer, two triples and five RBIs and Mather was batting .333 with a homer and three RBIs. La Russa said Barton would add speed and can play all three outfield spots. Of the 25-year-old Mather, he said ``I haven't seen him do anything average yet.''
Mather hit 31 homers at the Double-A and Triple-A levels last year.
Gonzalez was noncommittal about whether he'd be willing to start the season at Triple-A Memphis.
``I'm here now,'' Gonzalez said. ``I don't want to talk about tomorrow, what happens then.''
A strong motivating factor in Gonzalez' comeback attempt is he's 66 home runs shy of 500.
``I'm here, I'm positive, I'm working hard inside and outside the lines, and have a good attitude,'' Gonzalez said. ``We'll see what happens.''
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