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Craig held out of lineup in precautionary move

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals' starting lineup for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener featured most of the team's projected starters. There were two obvious omissions, though, as Rafael Furcal and Allen Craig were deliberately held back by manager Mike Matheny.

Furcal's absence was expected given his slowed spring program. The shortstop is still dealing with right elbow pain and has not been cleared to throw at max effort. When he does begin to make game appearances, it will be as a designated hitter. Matheny said that first DH appearance could come as early as Sunday, though the switch-hitting Furcal will only swing from the right side for now.

The decision to keep Craig out, Matheny explained, was in response to some achiness Craig has been feeling in his right shoulder. Both parties downplayed the issue, noting that the move to sit Craig was merely precautionary.

"We realize it throws out a whole lot of caution flags and it throws out a lot of headlines," Matheny said. "Those are risks we're willing to take to make sure we're real cautious. Sometimes a little bit of extra time goes a long way."

Craig has been participating in almost all of the workout drills, though he did stand on the sidelines Thursday when the infielders were throwing around and across the diamond. He hit but did not play the field in Friday's intrasquad game.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," Craig said on Saturday morning. "We're just taking it slow. It's not a big deal at all."