St. Louis Cardinals slugger and three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols is eyeing a possible return to the lineup as early as tonight in the second portion of a three-game series versus the NL Central-rival Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. On the disabled list since June 20 due to a fractured left wrist suffered in a collision at first base the day before against Kansas City, Pujols was originally scheduled to miss at least four weeks.
Pujols appears ready to go Tuesday, the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list, and has been taking ground balls and swinging a bat at full strength. Pujols said there is no pain in the wrist and has full range of motion doing what he does best. He is expected to meet with Cardinals physician Dr. George Paletta Tuesday morning.
"Whenever he gives the OK, I'll be on the field playing," Pujols said. "Hopefully, the test and everything goes well. Whatever the doctors say, and the trainer, then I'll follow that. I feel right where I want to be right now. I'm pretty excited. I can't wait to be back on the field, whatever the time is."
The Cardinals didn't need the nine-time All-Star, who was hitting .279 with 17 homers and 45 RBI in 73 games at the time of his injury, during Monday's 1-0 win behind eight shutout innings from fellow veteran Chris Carpenter. The right-hander allowed six hits to improve to 4-7 on the season. Fernando Salas struck out two in the ninth for his 15th save for St. Louis, which is 6-7 without Pujols and leads the NL Central by one game over Milwaukee and 1 1/2 games in front of Pittsburgh. The Reds are three games off the pace.