Allen Craig returns from knee surgery, rejoins Cardinals

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UPDATE: As expected, the Cardinals activated Craig from the DL. Rule 5 pick Erik Komatsu was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.

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Allen Craig is slated to return from November knee surgery and rejoin the Cardinals’ lineup tonight, several weeks later than initially hoped.

Despite the delay Craig told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the added time off allowed his knee to truly get healthy and stronger, saying: “I feel good out there right now. I’m ready to play.”

And it showed during his minor-league rehab assignment, as Craig destroyed Single-A and Triple-A pitching for a .357 batting average and three homers in seven games, posting a 1.058 OPS.

That includes a pair of homers and five RBIs in his final rehab outing on Monday, at which point the Cardinals decided it was time to bring him back. Lance Berkman’s calf injury means there’s room for Allen Craig at first base, although that also means rookie Matt Carpenter will lose playing time despite hitting well as Berkman’s initial replacement.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.