- Associated Press - Thursday, July 7, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Cardinals will have to make do without All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter for an extended period. They’ve struggled plenty even with Carpenter in the lineup.

Carpenter was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a strained right oblique, and there’s no set timetable for his return.

Manager Mike Matheny said he delivered the “sermon” that this isn’t a rehab that can be rushed. He recalled having the same injury as a player and disregarding medical advice, setting him back longer. The Cardinals were 3-5 and trying to avoid a four-game sweep by the Pirates in the finale of a nine-game homestand.

“Carp’s going to have to be careful with this,” Matheny said. “It’s going to take those two weeks at the very minimum.”

Greg Garcia batted leadoff in place of Carpenter on Thursday and Kolten Wong was at second base. Wong was the starting second baseman at the beginning of the season, but Carpenter moved from third base to second base when Jhonny Peralta returned from thumb surgery.

Jedd Gyorko, expected to compete for playing time at second base and shortstop before the season started, also figures to get plenty of work.

The Cardinals are set at shortstop with rookie Aledmys Diaz, who replaced Carpenter as St. Louis’ lone representative on the All-Star team. Diaz was batting .319 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs.

The Cardinals purchased the contract of catcher Michael McKenry from Triple-A Memphis. Matheny said the 31-year-old McKenry, who was batting .341 with five homers and 20 RBIs, was the best bat available. McKenry had a game-winning homer against Nashville on Tuesday night and has played for Colorado and Pittsburgh.

Carpenter, named Tuesday to his third NL All-Star team, is the third St. Louis player in three days to go on the DL, joining Brandon Moss (ankle) and Brayan Pena (knee).

Carpenter was among the league leaders in on-base percentage (.420) and slugging percentage (.568). He was batting .298 with a team-leading 25 doubles and 53 RBIs to go with 14 homers.

Matheny said he told Carpenter to take advantage of rest while he can, “and then plan on riding it hard the rest of the way after this and put on the kind of finish he’s had here at the start.”

The manager hoped the rest of the team would see Carpenter’s injury as a chance to contribute. Diaz got his break when Tommy Pham injured his oblique on opening day, combined with a hamstring injury to Ruben Tejada, and was among the top rookies with a .319 average, 12 homers and 44 RBIs.

“Have a Moss go down? Opportunity. Have a Carpenter go down? Opportunity,” Matheny said. “What are you going to do with it?”

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