Rafael Furcal will attempt to rehab torn ligament in elbow

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When we learned yesterday that Rafael Furcal had a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the assumption was that he would undergo Tommy John surgery. That’s not the case. At least not yet.

According to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, Furcal will attempt to rehab the injury over the next 4-6 weeks. This timetable leaves open the possibility that he could return if he makes a quick recovery and the Cardinals have another long postseason run. However, the Cardinals will move ahead as if he will not be a factor until 2013. Of course, there’s the chance that the rehab doesn’t work and surgery is required. That scenario would push his return well into the 2013 season.

Furcal, 34, batted .264 with five homers, 12 steals, and a .671 OPS in 121 games this season and is under contract for $7 million next year. Daniel Descalso is expected to get most of the starts at shortstop down the stretch while the light-hitting Pete Kozma was called up from Triple-A Memphis yesterday to provide depth.

Michael Wacha leaves game with a left oblique strain

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Cardinals starter Michael Wacha suffered a strained left oblique muscle during his start this afternoon against the Phillies, causing him to leave in the fourth inning.

Wacha is 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA and a 71/36 K/BB ratio in 84.1 innings across 15 starts this season with St. Louis. To the extent he has to miss some time — and obliques invariably send starters to the disabled list — potential fill-in candidates include John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson.