Brad Penny optimistic that he'll pitch again this season

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Brad Penny is

optimistic he'll pitch again this season. He's just not sure when.

Penny, sidelined since late May with an upper back injury, said

Monday he's played catch every day for about a week, but the team

has yet to schedule a bullpen session.

Manager Tony La Russa seemed more enthusiastic than Penny, who's

3-4 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts. Penny signed a one-year, $7.5

million free agent contract in the offseason and said he'll do

whatever he can to return to the rotation.

The opener of a three-game series against the Houston was the

61st game Penny has missed.

La Russa said Penny was feeling better and the pitcher was

definitely not being counted out the rest of the season.