STL@MIL: Kelly exits the game with an injury

LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Joe Kelly took his latest step forward in his return from a left hamstring injury Friday when he began a Minor League rehab assignment with a two-inning start for Triple-A Memphis.

Kelly threw 41 pitches (21 strikes) in his first game appearance since April 16, when he injured himself trying to beat out a bunt. Facing the Round Rock (Texas) club on Friday, Kelly allowed two hits (including a home run), two runs, three walks and struck out one. He also committed a balk.

"[I] had some pretty good stuff, made some pretty good pitches. Every other pitch, I felt like," Kelly told a reporter from the Memphis Commercial Appeal after his outing. "It was just hard to command the fastball now, but I was trying to be more cautious about the leg and not just letting my body do the work. But no tugging, no pulling. It's just something you have to get over mentally also. Coming back from injury, you just can't worry about it and you have to pitch. But yeah, mechanics were a little slower and I was trying to be more cautious in getting out of it."

Once the Cardinals feel Kelly is ready to come off the disabled list, there is a rotation spot awaiting him. General manager John Mozeliak, in discussing the state of the rotation earlier this week, said he expected Kelly would make at least two Minor League starts before rejoining the big league team.

Asked afterward about his stamina, Kelly said he would "grade it about a 'C'. I could pass for those two innings. Wasn't where I wanted it to be."

Carpenter in tight race for All-Star spot at 3B

Carpenter discusses the 2014 All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Carpenter's offensive numbers are not as eye-popping as they were a year ago, when he was on his way to a 199-hit, 55-double season. But the Cardinals corner infielder finds himself in the thick of a tight five-player battle to earn an All-Star start at third base next month.

Only about 260,000 votes separated Aramis Ramirez, the National League's third-base leader as of Monday, and Nolan Arenado, currently in fifth. Squeezed in between were David Wright, Pablo Sandoval and Carpenter. Carpenter entered Friday second among all NL third basemen with a .372 on-base percentage and third with a WAR of 2.3.

"Last year, my first All-Star appearance in New York City was a real thrill for me and something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Carpenter told MLB.com on Friday during his time in the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. "Then, obviously, getting the opportunity to do it again is something that would never get old. I would be extremely honored and excited to be there. It's quite an accomplishment."

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Shelby Miller threw off the mound at Dodger Stadium on Friday, though manager Mike Matheny wanted to see how Miller responded before making a final decision on whether he would start for the Cardinals on Sunday. Miller exited his last outing prematurely due to back tightness, which has lingered in the days since.

"We've been very optimistic as to how he's progressing, but we'll continue to watch," Matheny said. "We're going to need him to feel pretty good in order to move in the direction that we're going to be able to have him start. We'll just see what he says, see how that's interpreted by the medical team, and then make a decision."

If Miller is unable to go Sunday, the Cardinals will call up a spot starter from the Minors to pitch in his place.

• The Cardinals announced the signing of right-hander Bryan Dobzanski, the team's 29th-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Dobzanski, out of Franklinville, N.J., was a three-sport athlete (baseball, football and wrestling) and had committed to play baseball at the University of Louisville. Dobzanski posted a 0.91 ERA in 46 innings his senior season and averaged 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

According to the South Jersey Times, Dobzanski received a $700,000 signing bonus, all but $100,000 of which counted against the Cardinals' Draft bonus pool. Dobzanski will report to the organization's Gulf Coast League affiliate in Jupiter, Fla.

• Matheny acknowledged that closer Trevor Rosenthal was unavailable on Thursday because he threw 41 pitches in an outing Wednesday. Matheny did not divulge Rosenthal's availablity for Friday's game.