ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals honored the coaching staff of their Double-A Springfield, Mo., affiliate before Friday's contest.

Springfield won the Texas League title by beating Frisco, 3-2, in the best-of-five championship series.

Springfield manager Mike Shildt attended batting practice before Friday's game against Washington.

"It was a tremendous season," Shildt said. "Great staff, great team, a lot of high-character guys. It was a real good combination of things."

Shildt and his staff, including pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd and hitting coach Phillip Wellman, were honored by St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak and Minor League director John Vuch before the contest. The group displayed the Texas League championship trophy and drew a large ovation from the crowd.

Two current players on the St. Louis roster -- pitchers Sam Freeman and Trevor Rosenthal -- spent part of the season in Springfield. Shildt got a chance to talk to them prior to Friday's contest.

"I'm really happy for them," Shildt said. "It's good see them contribute."

Shildt is on his way to help in instructional league in Florida. He managed the Cardinals' Johnson City, Tenn., rookie league team to the Appalachian League crown in 2011.

Outfielder Oscar Taveras helped lead the way with 23 homers and 94 RBIs for Springfield, batting .321. Second baseman Kolten Wong, the Cardinals' first-round Draft choice in 2011, also had a fine campaign with a .287 average.

Freese anxious to get back in Cards' lineup

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis third baseman David Freese took batting practice on the field Friday afternoon as he continues to try to work his way back from a right ankle injury.

Freese rolled the ankle on Monday in an indoor batting cage prior to the Cardinals' game in Houston. He missed all three games in the series and was hoping to return to the lineup sometime this weekend.

The MVP of the 2011 World Series was not in the starting lineup Friday in the first game of a three-game set with Washington.

Still, he is confident that he will be back in the next few days after resuming full baseball activities Friday for the first time since the accident.

"Every day gets better," Freese said. "It's tender, but I've got it taped up."

Freese, who has had two ankle surgeries in his career, arrived at Busch Stadium earlier than usual Friday to test the progress of his ankle.

"I took grounders and ran around a little bit," he added. "We'll see how it feels.

Freese, who has eight hits in his last 24 at-bats, did not appear to be favoring the ankle during drills. He drove several balls hard in batting practice.

"Whenever I'm ready, I'll be out there," he said. "It's frustrating whether it's now or April. But it is what it is. It could've been a lot worse. But I'll be out there soon enough."

While Freese is confident about his return, manager Mike Matheny remains cautious.

"He's still not there," Matheny said. "I just don't want to give a timeline. We'll just see how he does each day."

Freese is anxious to return. He says the clock is ticking with the regular season ending on Wednesday.

"I'm trying to push it," he said. "We don't have much time left."

Matt Carpenter has replaced Freese at third. Carpenter entered Friday with has six homers and 44 RBIs.

Westbrook's goal is to join Cards' bullpen

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis right-hander Jake Westbrook, sidelined by an oblique strain, is hoping to get back into shape for possible bullpen duty in the postseason.

Westbrook (13-11, 3.97 DERA) has yet to throw competitively since being shut down Sept. 8. "I want to try and help this team win some ballgames," he said. "If I can, it would have to be out of the bullpen."

Westbrook is still early on the rehab trail and realizes that he will not be able to reach the stamina level needed of a starting pitcher. He was shut down after just a few pitches during a bullpen session a week ago.

Westbrook struggled down the stretch last season and made only two postseason relief appearances during the Cardinals' run to the World Series title.

This time around, he was looking to play a bigger role in the postseason festivities.

"This year, I felt like I would be one of the four or five guys [in the rotation]," he said.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny will not divulge his pitching plans until the Cardinals officially nail down a playoff spot.

For now, Westbrook is a long shot to make a postseason roster.