Pujols shifts to third base again

For the second time this month, Albert Pujols is starting for

the St. Louis Cardinals at third base. Anything to help manager

Tony La Russa get another productive bat in there.

La Russa’s lineup on Tuesday night against the San Francisco

Giants leaned heavily to offense and got Jon Jay, batting .390 his

last 14 games and .343 overall, back into the mix. Lance Berkman

moved from right field to first base and Jay started in right and

batted second ahead of Pujols against Giants right-hander Ryan

Vogelsong.

La Russa did more juggling about a half-hour before gametime,

scratching Matt Holliday, who did not run well Monday in his first

game back from a quadriceps injury that sidelined him for six

starts. Allen Craig started in left field and Berkman moved to

cleanup.

La Russa said he anticipated Pujols would be back at first base

Wednesday when the Cardinals face Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum.

He praised Pujols’ willingness to move around but didn’t want him

playing too much at third base because he considers him one of the

best first basemen in the majors.

”This is an example of a true superstar who’ll walk in and say,

‘Whenever you want to do that,”’ La Russa said. ”We’re not able

to take the long view here. Things are changing all the time.

”I don’t think it’s something we should ask him to do more than

just a few times, but today’s one of those times.”

Pujols made his first start at third base since 2002 on May 16

at home against the Phillies and fielded five chances flawlessly.

Pujols is a two-time Gold Glove winner at first base, and La Russa

said defense wouldn’t be a problem at third.

”What can’t he do?” La Russa said. ”He showed it to you his

rookie year, right? He makes all the plays, he’s got a strong,

accurate arm. In fact, he’s way above average.”

La Russa said Kyle McClellan would miss a turn in the rotation

with a hip injury sustained in the first inning on Monday. Pitching

coach Dave Duncan said McClellan appeared to make two awkward

landings, and the first-year starter gave up seven runs in four

innings.

La Russa said earlier that Holliday had orders to take it easy.

Holliday had a chance to beat out a grounder that third baseman

Miguel Tejada bobbled in the third inning Tuesday but wasn’t

running full out.

”He’s been told when in doubt, take the out,” La Russa said.

”We don’t want him to yank it again if we can help it.”

Third baseman David Freese took swings indoors for the first

time since breaking his left hand on May 1. La Russa said Freese,

who had been expected back in mid-July, was ahead of schedule.

”He’s one of our key guys,” La Russa said. ”We’ve done a good

job of covering for him but the sooner he gets back, the deeper we

get.”

La Russa said the Cardinals brought back second baseman Skip

Schumaker too soon from a right triceps injury because the team

needed him. Schumaker, who started Tuesday and batted eighth, was 2

for 16 since coming off the 15-day disabled list on May 23.

”He took one for the team,” La Russa said. ”We pushed him. We

didn’t want to but we had to.”