Holliday set for Friday return, Berkman could miss weekend

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The Cardinals received good news Thursday evening on all three of their starting outfielders.

Colby Rasmus returned to center field and doubled in an afternoon victory over the Astros, left fielder Matt Holliday has been cleared of his quad discomfort and is expected to return Friday, and right fielder Lance Berkman underwent an MRI on his wrist that ruled out ligament damage.

That all comes from ESPN 101’s Brian Stull.

The Cardinals have featured one of baseball’s most productive outfields this season. Rasmus has an .855 OPS and 32 runs scored, Holliday is batting an MVP-like .357/.444/.557 with 28 RBI, and Berkman has a stunning .349/.455/.683 slash line with 11 home runs and 35 RBI.

Rasmus and Holliday should be able to play all three games of the Cardinals’ upcoming interleague weekend series against the Royals. Berkman is likely to return to the starting lineup by early next week.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.