When Albert Pujols went down with a broken wrist last month, the
St. Louis Cardinals faced the possibility of playing without the
three-time NL MVP until August.
Instead, a little more than two weeks later, the Cardinals could
see Pujols back in the lineup as early as Tuesday night, when the
NL Central leaders continue their home series against the
Pujols was hitting a career-worst .279 when he was injured
trying to make a tag at first base against Kansas City on June 19.
The next day, St. Louis announced he had suffered a broken wrist
that was originally expected to keep him out up to six weeks.
However, Pujols’ rehab progressed quickly and after taking
indoor batting practice and fielding grounders outside before
Monday’s game, he said he could be ready to return as soon as
Tuesday, the first day he’d be eligible to come off the disabled
The Cardinals said Tuesday afternoon they plan to activate the
nine-time All-Star but had not decided if he would start this
“I can’t wait to get back on the field,” Pujols said Monday.
“Hopefully, it can be tomorrow. If it’s not, whenever the time
comes will be the right time to play.”
The Cardinals are 6-7 since losing arguably the game’s best
player. Despite having a sub-par first half, Pujols had been
playing better right before the injury, batting .343 with nine
homers in his last 19 games. He has 17 homers and 45 RBIs on the
St. Louis (46-40) could certainly use his power in the lineup.
It is coming off a 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Monday behind eight
innings of six-hit ball by Chris Carpenter, who outdueled Johnny
Cueto. Pinch-hitter Mark Hamilton drove in the lone run with an
infield single in the eighth.
The Cardinals, who had lost their previous two games while
scoring four runs, took over sole possession of first place in the
NL Central after beginning the day tied with Milwaukee. The Reds,
losers of three of four, are three games back in fourth place.
“It’s big for us because we had heard the Brewers lost and that
we can take sole possession of first place,” Hamilton said.
Cincinnati can’t be too happy at the prospect of Pujols
returning with the teams scheduled to meet five times in the next
nine games. He is 4 for 10 with two homers and a double against
Edinson Volquez (5-3, 5.65 ERA), the Reds’ scheduled starter.
Volquez is 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA in five starts against the
Cardinals. He gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-0 loss at
Busch Stadium on April 24.
The right-hander went 6 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay on
Wednesday, allowing three runs and striking out seven in a 4-3
Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips entered this series hitting .375
with two homers and seven RBIs against the Cardinals this season
before going 0 for 4 Monday. He’s 1 for 13 in his last three games
The Reds could struggle to generate offense again against Jaime
Garcia (7-3, 3.33), who is 4-1 with a 0.88 ERA in seven home starts
– two complete games.
The left-hander labored at Baltimore on Thursday, allowing five
runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings, but was credited with victory as
the Cardinals won 9-6.
Garcia has won all four starts against the Reds, posting a 3.70
Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Phillips have combined to go 5 for 29