ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The St. Louis Cardinals placed 40-year-old shortstop Ozzie Smith on the 15-day disabled list, although it's likely he'll be gone a lot longer than that.

``I'm not optimistic,'' manager Joe Torre said Wednesday. ``When Ozzie can't play, you know it's got to be something more than just a sore arm.''

Smith, who last month became the oldest opening-day shortstop in the major leagues since Luke Appling in 1950, has missed the last six games due to a sore shoulder that's been bothering him since the start of spring training. The injury may require surgery, although he was disabled retroactive to May 18.

``I can hit,'' Smith said. ``It's just tough to throw.''

This is only the fourth time Smith has been on the disabled list in his 18-year career, and the first time since June 16-30, 1992. In the mid 1980s, he played through a rotator-cuff injury without undergoing surgery.

``He's pretty resourceful getting himself ready to play both mentally and physically,'' Torre said. ``Physically he's never been terrific shoulder-wise over the last 7, 8, 9 years, but he's always managed to go out there.

``But if you can't do your job, you realize it's something more than just playing with pain.''

The team will try treatment and further diagnostic testing of the shoulder before considering surgery, team spokesman Brian Bartow said. Smith, who underwent an MRI test on Wednesday, said he thought he would be out about six weeks if arthroscopic surgery is required.

``I get treatment every day and try to get the inflammation out, and that's really all you can do,'' Smith said.

Smith, in his 14th season with St. Louis, is batting .250 with three RBIs in 68 at-bats. He is the Cardinals' oldest shortstop since 44-year-old Bobby Wallace in 1918.

Last season, Smith became the career assist leader, surpassing Luis Aparicio, and was the top vote-getter for the National League All-Star team in making his 13th appearance in the game. He won 13 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1980 to 1992.

One goal still to be achieved is 2,500 hits. He's 118 away and insists he'll make it.

``It's not the end, not yet,'' Smith said. ``I've got too much left to accomplish.''

Rookie Tripp Cromer, who's playing in Smith's absence, said he is as anxious as anybody to have Smith back in the lineup.

``I'm just here to fill in,'' Cromer said. ``I'm not the shortstop, he is.''

The Cardinals recalled outfielder Allen Battle from Triple-A Louisville. Battle, who batted .222 in 13 games with Louisville with two home runs and seven RBIs, was in uniform for Wednesday's 9-5 loss to Atlanta.