ST. LOUIS -- Mike Shannon, the voice of the Cardinals, returned to the broadcast booth on Monday after missing nearly six weeks while he recovered from heart surgery. Shannon had his aortic valve replaced on Aug. 19.
"It's nice to have him back here for the stretch run," said John Rooney, Shannon's radio partner. "It's nice to have him here for meaningful games. He's got to be feeling better now that he has a valve pumping both ways. He already had a lot of energy, and now he should have even more."
Shannon, 74, is expected to ease back into his broadcasting duties, likely not calling a full game for some time. He has been a fixture in the Cardinals' broadcast booth since 1972 after playing in St. Louis from 1962-70. Shannon was a member of two World Series championship teams and has been inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
"We miss seeing him around," manager Mike Matheny said. "I know that the fans miss listening to him. John Rooney has done a terrific job. [He's] got a great voice, got a great eye for the game, great knowledge. But I think St. Louis has been very accustomed to Mike's voice and stories. I know they're excited to get him back."
Holliday again scratched with back issue
ST. LOUIS -- For the second straight day, Matt Holliday was scratched from the Cardinals' starting lineup shortly before the first pitch due to back spasms.
The issue first surfaced on Sunday, and Holliday was kept out of that game when he couldn't get his back to loosen up while taking some pregame swings. As the Cardinals were taking the field for batting practice on Monday, manager Mike Matheny said that Holliday's back was feeling "much better."
The timing of that prognosis changing would suggest that Holliday, who went 13-for-26 on the road trip, felt the tightness return while swinging Monday afternoon. Shane Robinson replaced Holliday in left field and hit in the eighth spot.
Field expected to play faster after football game
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals head groundskeeper Bill Findley had a look of exhaustion as he and his crew wrapped up their work preparing the Busch Stadium field for Monday night's game against the Nationals. They had all worked almost around the clock converting the surface back for baseball after hosting a college football game between Southeast Missouri State and Southern Illinois on Saturday.
Findley said that 13 truckloads of sod were brought in to replace the outfield grass that had been torn up during the football game. The areas of the outfield that were not replaced still showed a few yard markings and the end zone.
The work started late Saturday afternoon, immediately after the conclusion of the football game. Findley had his team return to Busch Stadium around 7 a.m. CT on Sunday and they worked until close to midnight. They returned early on Monday to finish.
Manager Mike Matheny and third-base coach Jose Oqunedo were among those who surveyed the field Monday afternoon before the Cardinals went out for batting practice. Both expected the outfield to play a bit faster due to balls skipping off a harder surface.
"Looks like the grounds crew did a good job with what they had to try and make happen here," Matheny said. "It's not easy. We've got a very, very good grounds crew here. These guys work real hard and I'll be interested to see how it plays."
• Allen Craig is scheduled to have his left foot re-evaluated on Thursday, after which the Cardinals will determine the next step in his rehab process. Craig is expected to have an X-ray taken during that examination. Craig has been sidelined and wearing a walking boot since hobbling off the field in Cincinnati on Sept. 4. He suffered a mild left foot sprain in that game while awkwardly turning near first base.
• Injured reliever Jason Motte teamed up with the Cardinals on Monday to raise money for childhood cancer research. A portion of some ticket sales was donated to that research as a part of Motte's "Let's Strike Out Cancer" initiative. Motte opened the day by spending time at a local children's hospital with teammates Craig and Jon Jay. Additional tickets were also distributed to children and families who have been battling cancer.
• Prior to Monday's game, Carlos Beltran was recognized during an on-field ceremony as the Cardinals' nominee for the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award. Beltran is one of 30 finalists for the honor, which recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Fans have a voice in determining the winner and can cast votes at chevybaseball.com through Oct. 6.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.