ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals are down three key infielders after placing infielder Nick Punto on the disabled list with a right forearm injury.
The move was made Wednesday, a day after Punto was unavailable to play defense. Infielder Pete Kozma, the franchise's first-round pick in 2007, was recalled from Triple-A Memphis and made the major leagues for the first time.
Punto, a utility infielder, joins third baseman David Freese (broken hand) and second baseman Skip Schumaker on the disabled list.
Manager Tony La Russa said team medical personnel were hopeful of getting Punto back after 15 days. La Russa said Punto's injury would not speed up the rehab program for Schumaker, sidelined since April 16 with a right triceps injury.
Schumaker began a rehab assignment Wednesday at extended spring training in Jupiter, Fla., and could be back next week. Freese is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
The 23-year-old Kozma was batting .220 with 17 RBIs in 38 games at Memphis, but had 12 RBIs in 16 games this month -- including a four-RBI game Saturday and a 4-for-4 game on Sunday. La Russa said he could use Kozma at third, shortstop or second base, calling him a "defensive plus," but wasn't sure how much he'd be used.
Punto was batting .262 with 11 RBIs in 65 at-bats, and is the lone Cardinals player with 90 chances and no errors. He began the season on the disabled list after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia in February.
The team said Punto has a right forearm flexor strain. La Russa said Punto felt a twinge making a relay last week at Chicago.
Center fielder Colby Rasmus was not in the lineup for the fourth straight game, getting extra time to clear up a minor abdominal muscle pull. La Russa said Rasmus still felt something when he swung the bat, but Rasmus said he was ready to go.
La Russa said Jon Jay's recent success did not factor into plans for Rasmus, batting .305 and among the league leaders with 31 runs a .393 on-base percentage and 23 walks. Jay was batting .309 with three homers and nine RBIs in 55 at-bats.
"You're not going to play a guy that's hurt," La Russa said. "You give them the time. That doesn't change anything."
Allen Craig made his second straight start at second base, which La Russa admitted was a liability but weighed that against the offensive potential. La Russa said he'd probably take Craig out after three or four at-bats, just like on Tuesday, when he subbed in Greene for the ailing Punto.
Tyler Greene, the defensive replacement, dropped a routine pop fly that led to the tying run in St. Louis' 2-1 victory over the Phillies on Tuesday. La Russa said it was just one of those things.
"He can get 100 of those balls, 1,000 of those balls, and he's going to catch 999 of them," La Russa said.