ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals activated utilityman Allen Craig, one of the stars from their World Series run last fall, from the 15-day disabled list and moved quickly to get his bat in the lineup.
The 27-year-old Craig hit three home runs in the Series and four overall in the postseason. He has been rehabbing from right knee surgery with Triple-A Memphis and was in the lineup Tuesday night hitting seventh and playing first base for the start of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I'm in a good spot now," Craig said. "The knee feels great."
Craig is the likely fill-in at first base while Lance Berkman rehabs from a left calf injury that landed him on the disabled list April 19. The Cardinals aren't sure whether Berkman will be ready to come off the DL after 15 days.
Batting Craig seventh gives him a chance to adjust, plus the six batters ahead of him are well-established.
"Nice problem to have, a lot of competent hitters," manager Mike Matheny said. "Easing him in here, too, isn't a bad idea. He's just a good bat, period."
Outfielder Erik Komatsu was designated for assignment. The 24-year-old Komatsu was a Rule 5 selection last December off the Washington Nationals' roster and appeared in 15 games, batting .211 with no RBIs, after impressing the team in spring training.
The left-handed hitting Komatsu, who played at the Double-A level in 2011, was expendable because of the emergence of Matt Carpenter, also a left-handed hitter, and Shane Robinson, who was batting .419 with a homer and five RBIs in 31 at-bats.
Komatsu would have to clear waivers for the Cardinals to keep him and send him to the minors.
"That was a tough conversation to have with him," Matheny said. "He's going to get snatched up by somebody. From what I've seen I'd like to have the kid around, so I'm sure somebody else sees the same thing."
Craig homered twice Monday night for Memphis while playing first base and completed his rehab assignment with a .353 average (6 for 17) with seven RBIs in four games.
Craig batted .315 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 75 games last season, missing considerable time after injuring his knee when he ran into a barrier chasing a foul ball in Houston June 2.
He played six positions last year, everything except shortstop, pitcher and catcher, with most of his action in left and right field. He didn't play outfield during his minor league rehab, and Matheny said he probably won't use Craig in the outfield for the time being, part of his reasoning because he has a solid trio with Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran.
Matheny said Craig probably won't play day games after night games for now, too.
"The days he's not playing he's a force to come off the bench, but there are not a lot of guys in this lineup you want to pinch hit for outside of the pitcher most days," Matheny said. "When everybody comes back it'll be pretty creative figuring out how to get everybody in there. It's a great problem to have."