ST. LOUIS -- Sidelined since fracturing his left hand on May 17, shortstop Paul DeJong received a green light to resume hitting following a scan of the surgically repaired hand on Saturday.
It's the latest step forward in a series of them for DeJong, who, barring any setbacks, expects to be back with the club around the start of July. He hit off a tee on Saturday and will travel with the Cardinals on their upcoming road trip. He hopes to start taking batting practice during that week.
Prior to Saturday, his offensive work had been limited to dry swings.
"I'm hoping to be ramping it up a bunch this road trip. Hopefully, by the time we get home, we can reassess and see if they have a better timeline in place," DeJong said. "That next homestand, I'm looking to being pretty close to being ready."
DeJong has already cleared several defensive hurdles, as he's squeezing his glove and catching balls in the air without any discomfort. The plate that was inserted to stabilize his left pinkie finger will remain for now. He plans to have it removed in the offseason in order to limit the risk of anything being aggravated, and he hopes to shake off any worry about a potential relapse during the Minor League rehab assignment that will precede his return from the DL.
"There's always that anxious feeling when you haven't been in the game for a while and you finally get in," he said. "I'm sure I'll settle back in pretty quickly, and I'm definitely ready to get back. I've been watching the games, and seeing guys struggle makes me think I want to help as much as I can. I know I can. I just have to wait."
Why so serious?
John Brebbia, as he's apt to do in any setting, provided a moment of levity when he took an at-bat in Friday's 13-5 blowout loss to the Cubs. With the game out of hand and his bench thin, manager Mike Matheny sent Brebbia to the plate with one out in the ninth.
Brebbia made the most of the rare opportunity. He swung aggressively at three consecutive pitches, the last of which he grounded to shortstop. He was retired, but not before sprinting to first.
"The best part is when he asked the umpire if he was sure he was out after he crossed first base," Matheny said. "We were getting our teeth kicked in, so it was hard to find humor in anything. But I had a hard time not laughing at him."
It was the second career plate appearance for Brebbia, who had one last season. He took the responsibility so seriously, too, that he requested data from hitting coach John Mabry when the Cubs brought in reliever Randy Rosario to face him.
"I told [pitching coach] Mike Maddux that I don't think anybody wants the at-bat on our roster more than Brebbia," Matheny said. "As soon as I told him, he sprinted down into the cage to get loose. Apparently, he got loose."
Rehabbing reliever Greg Holland worked around a single and a walk while throwing a scoreless inning for Double-A Springfield on Saturday. It was the first time he has worked in back-to-back games since going on the disabled list with a right hip impingement. He is expected back in St. Louis on Sunday so that he can be re-evaluated by the Cardinals' medical staff.