JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny is optimistic that he'll miss only two of the team's Spring Training games while he recovers from back surgery, which he is scheduled to undergo on Monday morning.
Matheny will fly to St. Louis after Sunday's game against the Mets for the microdisectomy, which was recommended after physical therapy and an epidural provided only short-term relief for the pain and numbness caused by a ruptured disc.
During the procedure, a fragment of that ruptured disc will be removed to relieve pressure on a nerve.
"There are some more dramatic surgeries that happen than this one," Matheny said, refuting that this is a worst-case scenario. "I guess we just didn't really know what to expect, hoping that it would just settle down and go away. … They seem pretty confident that this will take care of it."
Matheny intends to return to Florida on Wednesday so that he can be in the dugout for Thursday's home game. (The Cardinals do not have a game on Wednesday.) Bench coach Mike Aldrete will serve as manager during Matheny's two-game absence, and first-base coach Chris Maloney will serve as Aldrete's bench coach. Triple-A manager Ron "Pop" Warner will step in for Maloney in the first-base box.
Symptoms of the back ailment began shortly after Matheny arrived in Jupiter but became debilitating around the beginning of this month. Increasing pain and a bout of food poisoning kept him from traveling with the team to its March 1 game, against the Astros. Three days later the epidural was administered.
"I hate being a distraction to all these guys, because they are all hurting with something right now," Matheny said when asked about dealing with the discomfort. "But it would be a long season with the flights and the sitting down [if the problem wasn't addressed]. … Standing up all game, I'm fine. I feel best when I'm walking. I hate that this has been as big a deal as it's been."
Holliday resumes workouts following stomach flu
JUPITER, Fla. -- Though still weak after dealing with a three-day stomach flu, Matt Holliday resumed light workouts with teammates on Sunday morning.
Holliday took batting practice, played catch and participated in an outfield drill. He described himself as low on energy and needing sleep after getting little of it while he was sick.
When he weighed himself on Saturday, he found he had dropped about seven pounds.
Holliday will return to the spring complex on Monday to work out, and if he's feeling strong enough, the Cardinals will send him to Orlando to play in Tuesday's game, against the Braves.
Holliday, who last played on March 6, is 3-for-14 in seven Grapefruit League games.
"We set [March 13 as the date] when we're really going to start kicking it in gear," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've got plenty of time for him to still be where he needs to be."
Salas to return next week with Mexico eliminated
JUPITER, Fla. -- Fernando Salas' participation in the World Baseball Classic ended up being brief, and the right-handed reliever is expected back at the Spring Training complex early this week.
After finishing 1-2 record in the first round of pool play, Team Mexico will not advance deeper into the 16-team tournament. Salas pitched a scoreless inning on Thursday and allowed a run in a one-inning appearance on Friday. He did not pitch in Mexico's loss on Saturday, nor did he appear to be involved in the on-field brawl that erupted late in the game between Mexico and Canada.
"I was happy to see that Salas wasn't on the ground," manager Mike Matheny said in reference to the melee. "I looked for him, making sure he wasn't hurt or hurting. He was doing the right thing, just grabbing people."
Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran will remain absent until at least March 13, as Team Puerto Rico advanced to the second round with a 6-3 win over Venezuela on Saturday. Beltran served as the designated hitter in the game and finished 2-for-4 with a run scored. Molina went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Mitchell Boggs can join Beltran and Molina in Miami, where second-round games will be played, if Team USA defeats Team Canada on Sunday. Boggs pitched a scoreless inning on Friday; he did not appear in Team USA's win over Italy on Saturday.
• David Freese is expected to play third base on Monday for the first time since he bruised his tailbone on March 4. Freese has served as a designated hitter twice since then, going 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
• Of the 17 games remaining on the Cardinals' spring schedule, 12 will be televised. Monday's game against the Yankees (12:05 p.m. CT) will be shown on ESPN.
• Minor League right-hander Richard Castillo pitched three scoreless innings in a start for Team Spain in Sunday's World Baseball Classic game against Venezuela. He allowed four hits before finishing his 62-pitch outing with back-to-back strikeouts of Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.