ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The Cardinals have already had to use the disabled list thirteen times in 2011, which already matches how many times they had to use it in 2010. They have already lost one of their best pitchers, had to keep one of their best hitters off the field for two periods of time, yet the injury sustained by Albert Pujols in the Cardinals 5-4 win on Sunday may be the biggest and most alarming to date.
Some how, some way, manager Tony LaRussa and his ball club have been able to endure and flourish this season with and without the help from some of their best players. Most know the list, but it is worth a brief recap. First Adam Wainwright, next Skip Schumaker, then Matt Holliday and Kyle McClellan, but three-time MVP Albert Pujols?
Diagnosed as a sprained left wrist and injured shoulder, the severity to Pujols’ injuries will not be known until more tests are complete. Initial, preliminary tests were conducted by Cardinals’ trainers and doctors at Busch Stadium on Sunday, yet more thorough work, such as a MRI, is needed and will occur on Monday.
After the game, Pujols, 31, was wearing a brace on the wrist and met with reporters:
Fortunately for the Cardinals, Monday is an off day for the Cardinals before the Philadelphia Phillies come to town on Tuesday for a three-game set. The club will more than likely have an adequate amount of time to assess Pujols’ injuries, plus decide if a roster move needs to be made before their next game.
The injury happened in the top of the sixth inning when Albert Pujols was clipped by Royals’ third baseman Wilson Betemit as he was attempting to scoop a bouncing throw from Pete Kozma. Betemit was leading off the inning and hit a chopper to Kozma who’s off-balance throw sailed towards the home plate side of the first base bag. The throw took Pujols, more specifically his glove-side arm, directly into Betemit’s path and that’s when the wrist and shoulder were twisted in an unnatural way.
Immediately, Pujols expressed pain letting go of his glove and stepping away from the play. At first almost resembling a soccer player trying to draw a call as he jumped around and then began rolling around on the field in front of the Cardinals’ dugout, Pujols just laid on the ground with everyone at Busch Stadium looking on with a gaze of shock.
Pujols went through the play:
As soon as the play was dead, Cardinals’ trainer Greg Hauck ran out to Pujols, who was still laying on the ground in pain. Manager Tony LaRussa and some of the other Redbirds on the field quickly arrived and huddled around Pujols. Moments later, Pujols left the field.
Not knowing much about the injuries just yet, Pujols was not able to share specific details. However, he was able to elaborate if the wrist or shoulder was in more pain:
The 5-4 win for the Cardinals on Sunday against the Royals was a big victory, especially with the thrilling walk-off home run from Skip Schumaker. Yet, the uncertainty of Albert Pujols’ condition was probably weighing heavy on just about everyone’s mind in Cardinal Nation as the game went on and eventually came to an end.
While it is captivating to see a capacity crowd go nuts after an amazing play like a diving catch or game-winning home run, it is just as gripping to see 40,000-plus collectively take a huge gasp and drop their jaws in unison as they did at Busch Stadium on Sunday as Pujols displayed genuine agony.
Tony LaRussa shared his initial reaction when he saw Pujols in pain:
The injury occurred a half inning after Pujols hit a 381-foot solo shot for his seventeenth home run this season and eighth in the month of June. Along with the game-tying homer in the fifth, Pujols was 3-3 with 2 singles and 2 runs scored.
Maybe the worst offensive start to a season in his eleven historic years with the Cardinals, Pujols was finally able to keep his batting average above .270 for 13 straight games, including Sunday, after only being able to hit the mark three times in his first 59 games. During that stretch dating back to June 4, Pujols was just beginning to heat up with a .333 batting average, 6 home runs, 11 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 13 runs scored, and just one double play.
Overall, in 72 games this season, Pujols has a .279 batting average with 17 home runs, 45 RBI’s, 52 runs scored, and .833 OPS. In 67 starts at first base, Pujols has 6 errors with a .991 fielding percentage.
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