Cardinals' Freese to open season on DL

St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese will start the season on the disabled list because of a lower back strain.

The move is retroactive to March 23, which will make him eligible to return April 7.

Freese has been battling back pain since March 4 when he fell into the seats while chasing a foul pop. He had an MRI exam on Monday and also received an injection for inflammation in the back.

The Cardinals can keep Freese in Florida during the first week of the regular season. He could join the team when it opens the home schedule on April 8 against Cincinnati.

Freese was selected to his first All-Star team last year and batted .293 with 20 homers and 79 runs batted in over a career-high 144 games. The 2011 NLCS and World Series MVP has had 30 at-bats this spring and is hitting .267 with a pair of homers and five runs batted in.