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Cards unsure when Furcal will see spring action

Not throwing at 100 percent, shortstop expected to be ready for Opening Day

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though Grapefruit League play begins this weekend, the Cardinals have not determined when shortstop Rafael Furcal will see his first game action.

Furcal, as manager Mike Matheny described it, "still hasn't let it go yet" on his throws. Furcal arrived at Spring Training confident in the strength of his elbow, but there are checkpoints he has to pass before he can feel fully in the clear. To this point, Furcal appears to be throwing at about 75-80 percent effort.

"It's probably going to take some time," Matheny said. "I'm not wanting to push him until he's ready. I think that would make him go backwards. Until he's ready, we have a bunch of guys we need to see."

Despite the slowed schedule, Furcal is expected to be ready for Opening Day, Matheny said. Furcal saw limited game action early last spring, too, as he was working to get back into shape after having an appendectomy. Though his spring results weren't impressive, he got off to a hot start once the regular season opened.

Furcal continues to participate in most of the team's defensive drills. When it comes time to throw, he'll either hold the ball or throw it at less-than-max effort.