JUPITER, Fla. • The veteran the Cardinals plan to turn to early -- and they hope often -- in the ninth inning will be delayed for several days and possibly a week or so by soreness in his oblique.

Luke Gregerson had one scheduled appearance scrapped and will go several days without appearing after experiencing tightness along his torso, manager Mike Matheny said. The righthander was sent for an MRI that revealed a minor irritation, the manager described.

"It wasn't one of those ones where it's like 'whoa!'" Matheny said following the Cardinals' victory against Washington at Roger Dean Stadium. "It's something to be cautious about."

For the Cardinals, it's the third oblique injury that has jarred a player from the usual schedule. Minor-league infielder Max Schrock injured his oblique muscle during the first day of camp and was not able to return before being assigned this past week to minor-league camp, where his recovery continues. Tyler O'Neill injured his oblique during a game in Fort Myers, Fla., late last month, and he has been cleared to run, appearing in games in that role.

He's going through a swing progression that could put him in games within the week, depending on how his body reacts to the work.

Asked to put Gregerson's soreness on that spectrum, Matheny indicated it wasn't as severe as the two position players and the team does not expect it to linger. Gregerson told the team about the "tightness" in the past few days, and that sent him for a series of tests to determine the severity.

The Cardinals have had Gregerson on a limited appearance plan so far this spring. He pitched a scoreless inning this past Saturday against Atlanta. He struck out two batters and bounced out of the frame with little trouble and a lot of feel for his sinker.

As Matheny discussed the number of oblique injuries felt in his camp and around baseball, he suggested it was reflective of how much more muscular players have become and the lifting they do. He added that "the other side of that" is his perception they recover more swiftly from the injuries because of the strength.

Derrick Goold

@dgoold on Twitter

dgoold@post-dispatch.com

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