No timetable for ailing Tony La Russa’s return to Cardinals

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Tony La Russa is expected to miss the Cardinals’ entire six-game road trip that began last night after leaving the team to have his shingles treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the manager could miss “significantly more time.”

Strauss quotes a source who calls La Russa’s leave an “open-ended convalescence” rather than a predetermined absence and general manager John Mozeliak indicated that there’s no timetable for his return, saying: “We don’t have a real high level of confidence on that to know what the outlook looks like.”

Bench coach Joe Pettini, rather than longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan, will serve as acting manager while La Russa is out, but Strauss reports that he’s chosen not to use La Russa’s office “as a show of respect.”

La Russa has experienced eye swelling, diminished vision, and “excruciating pain … radiated from the eye to the back of his head.” Strauss writes that he “typically eschewed pain medication because it made him drowsy” but “Mozeliak, coaches, and some players pressed La Russa to seek more aggressive treatment.”

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.