Nick Punto makes three Cardinals infielders on the disabled list

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Scrappy utilityman Nick Punto was placed on the disabled list for a second time this season Wednesday, this time because of a strained forearm.

Punto missed the first three weeks of the season following hernia surgery.  Because of injuries throughout the St. Louis infield, he had played pretty regularly since returning on April 20 and he was hitting .262/.355/.385 in 65 at-bats.  That’d be a career-high .740 OPS for the long-time Twin if he could keep it up.

Replacing Punto on the roster and making his major league debut is 2007 first-round pick Pete Kozma.  The 23-year-old Kozma, known strictly for his fine defense at shortstop, was hitting just .220/.284/.284 in 141 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis.  He had 31 strikeouts and no homers in 38 games.

Bypassed again was third baseman Matt Carpenter.  Carpenter appeared to make a strong impression on the Cardinals this spring, but the team declined to give him a try when either Skip Schumaker (elbow) or David Freese (hand) landed on the disabled list and he went unselected again now despite an OPS 250 points higher than Kozma’s.

Schumaker figures to be the first one to return out of the three injured infielders.  Tyler Greene, who was sharing time with Punto at second base, will get most of the starts there for now.

Dominic Smith dealing with a strained right quad

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Mets first baseman Dominic Smith is dealing with a strained right quad and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Smith, 22, did not play in the Mets’ first Grapefruit League game after showing up late. He played on Saturday, scoring two runs on a single and a hit-by-pitch in two plate appearances. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup.

The Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason, which makes him the front runner for the starting job at first base. Smith needs to have a strong spring showing to make the 25-man roster but so far, it hasn’t gone well.

Smith made his major league debut in August last year and ended up playing in 49 games. He struggled to a .198/.262/.395 slash line with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 183 plate appearances.