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Waino, Fowler among Cards close to returning

Club also encouraged by Oh, Gyorko's rehab progress
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals did not take batting practice before Thursday's series finale against the Reds, Busch Stadium was buzzing with on-field activity. Several rehabbing players, including Adam Wainwright and Dexter Fowler, went out early for work that pushed them closer to a return.

Wainwright threw his second bullpen session in three days, estimating afterward that he delivered between 20-35 pitches with manager Mike Matheny serving as his catcher. Wainwright is expected to throw off the mound once more this weekend -- perhaps in a simulated game against hitters -- before the Cardinals determine if he's ready to return from an elbow impingement injury that has kept him sidelined since Aug. 18.

Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals did not take batting practice before Thursday's series finale against the Reds, Busch Stadium was buzzing with on-field activity. Several rehabbing players, including Adam Wainwright and Dexter Fowler, went out early for work that pushed them closer to a return.

Wainwright threw his second bullpen session in three days, estimating afterward that he delivered between 20-35 pitches with manager Mike Matheny serving as his catcher. Wainwright is expected to throw off the mound once more this weekend -- perhaps in a simulated game against hitters -- before the Cardinals determine if he's ready to return from an elbow impingement injury that has kept him sidelined since Aug. 18.

Full Game Coverage

"Noticeable improvement from where I've been," Wainwright said after walking in from the bullpen. "I was throwing literally half speed, almost [before going on the disabled list]. I couldn't push it any harder than I was pushing it or the results were not good. I was throwing 10 mph harder today in the bullpen than I was in my [last] start."

Whether Wainwright returns to the rotation or slides into the bullpen for the final weeks of the season has not yet been determined.

"Next year, I want to start," Wainwright said. "This year, I want to do whatever I'm supposed to do to help the team."

Reliever Seung Hwan Oh, who has been bothered by hamstring tightness for the past week, also threw a bullpen session. Oh hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 7, though Matheny said the medical staff was encouraged by Thursday's showing.

Video: STL@PIT: Oh strikes out Diaz to seal Cards' victory

Fowler, sidelined since Saturday with a left knee contusion, spent some time in the outfield cutting and chasing down fly balls. He's hopeful about returning during the team's weekend series in Chicago, though that will depend upon whether the swelling in his knee continues to subside.

And for the second straight day, Jedd Gyorko (right hamstring strain) went out to third base to take ground balls. He has been cleared to pinch-hit, but he still has tests to pass before he can run the bases and play the field without limitation.

Postseason tickets to go on sale

The Cardinals announced that tickets for a potential National League Wild Card Game and Division Series games at Busch Stadium will go on sale at noon CT next Wednesday. Those tickets will be available for purchase at cardinals.com, by phone (314-345-9000) or at the Busch Stadium box office.

It's unlikely the Cardinals, who trail NL Wild Card leader Arizona by 7 1/2 games entering Thursday, will host the Wild Card Game. But if that were to be the case, the game would be held on Oct. 4. Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS are scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10.

Fans who place a deposit on 2018 season tickets will be given access to postseason tickets earlier than the rest of the general public. Ticket information for a possible tiebreaker, NL Championship Series and World Series games will be announced at a later date.

Memphis moves closer to title

Triple-A Memphis sits two wins away from its first Pacific Coast League title since 2009 after hanging on for a 6-4 win over El Paso in Game 1 of the PCL Championship Series on Wednesday. The best-of-five series continued with a 12:05 p.m. CT game on Thursday.

Starter Dakota Hudson limited El Paso to two runs on six hits in six innings. Tyler O'Neill contributed his ninth home run in 13 games, and Patrick Wisdom delivered a pair of RBI doubles.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright