St. Louis had always hoped that Albert Pujols would make a speedy return to the starting lineup. They just couldn't have expected it to come this early.
Just 17 days after breaking his left wrist in a collision at first base -- an injury that was supposed to sideline him for six weeks -- Pujols will return to the starting lineup for the Cardinals' primetime Wednesday night showdown against the Cincinnati Reds (43-44). The first basemen was activated yesterday afternoon, but was unneeded after the Cardinals quickly ran the score up on their divisional rivals.
St. Louis (47-40) will send righthander Jake Westbrook (7-4, 4.92) to the mound, fresh off a spectacular performance against Tampa Bay in which he allowed a season-low two hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out seven. Westbrook has fared well against Cincinnati in the past, amassing a 2-1 record with a 3.23 ERA over five career starts.
Cincinnati will counter with 12-year veteran Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.49 ERA). The righthander is coming off a horrendous start against Cleveland in which he gave up eight runs over four-and-two-thirds innings. Arroyo's last performance against St. Louis came on May 13th, as he pitched six innings of three run ball to pace the Cincinnati win.