The Cardinals seem poised to activate first baseman Matt Adams from the disabled list Friday when they host the Nationals at Busch Stadium.
Since beginning his rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Monday, Adams has not had any issues with the strained left calf that landed him on the DL. Friday is the first day he is eligible to be activated.
"We want to see the timing right, but it's more the physical, that he feels good," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He's running and not having any relapses."
The Cardinals are likely to option one of their young outfielders -- Randal Grichuk or Oscar Taveras -- but for now, Matheny would like to avoid any discussions about the possible move.
"I know it's a fair question, but I don't think there's a fair answer to start drawing all the conclusions of what might start happening here if and when Adams does come back," the skipper said. "I don't want that necessarily being something Oscar is worried about, even though he probably will anyhow. It's a topic of conversation, I get it. I would just rather stay away from it and let the guys play the game."
The Cardinals will need a healthy Adams to counteract a dominant Nationals pitching staff, which has led the club to eight victories in their last 11 games entering Friday night, despite a 7-1 loss on 13 hits from the Giants on Thursday.
The Nationals' pitching staff is tied with the Cardinals and Cubs for the fewest amount of home runs allowed. Each team has surrendered 42.
The success stems from their personnel, according to manager Matt Williams.
"Doug [Fister], the ball gets on the ground most of the time. [Blake] Treinen, the ball gets on the ground most of the time. Stras [Stephen Strasburg] with his secondary pitches -- if he gets ahead, it's very difficult to elevate a ball off him. Zimm [Jordan Zimmerman] has just been pounding the zone down lately. All of those things contribute to all of those stats."
Zimmermann, who owns an 18-inning scoreless streak, will take the mound on Friday. During his last start against the Padres, he struck out a career-high 12 and allowed two hits while pitching a shutout.
Cardinals stater Lance Lynn will need a bounce-back outing after laboring through his last start on 110 pitches in five innings. St. Louis is 4-5 in Lynn's past nine starts.
Nationals: Ramos placed on DL
The Nationals placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right hamstring strain and recalled catcher Sandy Leon to take his place from Triple-A Syracuse.
Ramos is hitting .261 with one home run and 11 RBIs in 24 games this season. Leon spent six weeks with the Nationals earlier this season and hit .182 with a double and a home run.
Defensively, he was a formidable replacement. Leon threw out 2 of 4 would-be basestealers and collected a 2.52 catchers' ERA while the Nationals went 7-5 with him behind the plate.
Cardinals: Matheny wants runners to be more aggressive
Before the start of the season, Peter Bourjos said his goal this season was to steal 40 bases. He has just four.
Matheny is calling for some of his faster players, such as Bourjos and second baseman Kolten Wong, to start being more aggressive on the basepaths to help bolster the Cardinals' offense.
Wong leads the team with eight stolen bases, but the Cardinals only have a total of 27 stolen bases, which ranked 26th in the Majors as of Wednesday night. Matheny said he has seen too many times this season where a runner has had the green light but did not run.
"I'll tell you there are some times I've given the green light and seen a slower move to the plate and I saw some hesitancy that got in the way of the good jump," Matheny said. "If you're waiting for everything to line up perfectly, you're probably going to wait there sitting so long that probably something is going to happen and you're not going to get the opportunity."
• St. Louis' Joe Kelly, who has been out nearly two months with a left hamstring strain, has begun striding and has increased the intensity of his throwing, Matheny said. Kelly's role with the team will be determined based on team need at the time.
• Washington won two of three from the Cardinals during the teams' first series back in April.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.