JUPITER — Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo could miss the season while recovering from surgery on his right knee.
The team said Sunday that the former big-league infielder, 52, was taking a medical leave of absence for rehabilitation.
"(Doctors) are just concerned that he gets out there and does what he needs to do for this job, that it would certainly lead toward a replacement, which no one likes the idea of, right?" Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "So, he's just got to take time."
First-base coach Bill Maloney handled third-base coaching duties this spring while Oquendo recovered and will continue to do so.
Assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller will coach first base and assume Oquendo's infield instruction duties. Mueller and bench coach David Bell will share in-game defensive player positioning duties, another of Oquendo's key roles.
Derrick May, the Cardinals' minor-league hitting coordinator, will serve as the Cardinals' assistant hitting coach.
Oquendo, a Stuart resident, missed several days earlier this spring when he had knee surgery. He returned to camp March 20, walking with the aid of crutches. He has not returned to the third-base coach's box since the surgery.
Upon his return, Oquendo said he expected to be ready to resume his duties once the regular season began.
"The timing wasn't ideal," Matheny said. "Jose was optimistic. Things just weren't getting better."
BRANTLEY NOT READY: Indians All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will not begin the season as a starter. Brantley has played in two spring games and reported residual soreness. He will continue to rest without baseball activities for the time being. Brantley had surgery in November.
D'BACKS STAR INJURED: All-Star outfielder A.J. Pollock could open the season on the disabled list with a sore right elbow, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. Pollock has felt the soreness since March 8 and was expected back in the lineup by early this week.
BRAVES TRADES: The Braves acquired infielder/outfielder Tyler Moore from the Nationals in exchange for minor-league first baseman Nate Freiman. Atlanta also acquired left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the Pirates for cash considerations.
CUBS: Right-hander Jake Arrieta was cleared to start the season opener April 4 against the Angels after feeling no discomfort in his right thumb, which developed a blister last week. … Dexter Fowler left in the first inning with tightness in his left side. The injury was described as minor.
DODGERS: Second baseman Howie Kendrick (left calf) will remain in Arizona rehabbing when the club leaves for Los Angeles on Wednesday. Catcher Yasmani Grandal (strained right forearm) and infielder Alex Guerrero (strained left knee) are likely to stay back as well.
GIANTS: Catcher Buster Posey was a late scratch because of hip tightness. The injury isn't believed to be serious.