Rafael Furcal drawing interest from “half dozen” teams

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Veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal hit .255/.316/.418 and launched seven home runs in 50 games after joining the Cardinals via a mid-summer trade.

He also upgraded St. Louis’ infield defense significantly while managing to stay healthy through the end of the Redbirds’ victorious World Series run.

Pleased with that performance, the St. Louis front office has expressed interest in retaining Furcal for the 2012 season. They even had discussions with him back in mid-August about re-upping. But it might not be such an easy or quick deal to work out.

According to beat writer Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Furcal has already drawn interest from a “half dozen teams” since he officially became a free agent late Wednesday night.

Furcal has expressed a desire to remain in St. Louis, where he just earned his first World Series ring, but, at the age of 34, he’s likely to chase the richest contract he can find. And it might not come from the Cards.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.