JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -Juan Gonzalez missed his seventh straight spring training game Monday and is losing ground in his effort to win a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gonzalez underwent an MRI exam Friday for an abdominal injury and was waiting for it to be read by a specialist. The 38-year-old slugger, attempting a comeback after getting only one at-bat the previous three seasons, said he was told by team doctors that the injury is not serious.
``The doctors say there's no hernia, that it's just the muscle,'' Gonzalez told The Associated Press on Monday. ``I'll keep taking treatment and when I'm fine, I'll go out there.''
He said the injury was improving, but very slowly.
``When I feel good I'll be out there,'' he said. ``I hope it's as soon as possible. Right now, no running, but I'm taking swings.''
Gonzalez got some at-bats during a simulated game and winced on occasion when he had to reach for a pitch. He always headed for the dugout after taking just a few steps out of the batter's box. He said he had seven at-bats against minor leaguers on Sunday and planned to repeat that routine on Monday.
``He's swinging, and you can tell he can be a tough out,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ``What you can't tell is if he's going to be healthy.''
The two-time AL MVP is battling Rule 5 draft pickup Brian Barton for the fifth outfielder job with the Cardinals. The speedy Barton was batting .349 with two homers, three triples and eight RBIs.
St. Louis did clear up one outfield question Monday, reassigning top prospect Colby Rasmus to its minor league camp. The move clears the way for former pitcher Rick Ankiel to be the opening-day starter in center field.
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