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Pujols officially DLed, Hamilton recalled

The Cardinals officially placed slugging first baseman Albert Pujols on the disabled list Tuesday, recalling minor league first sacker Mark Hamilton from Class AAA Memphis.

I was curious to see which way the Redbirds would go when replacing Pujols on the roster because Lance Berkman is widely expected to move from right field to first base. So the hole in the roster isn't actually at Pujols' usual position -- it's in the outfield where the Birds are pretty well stocked.

Recently called up outfielder Andrew Brown is also capable of playing first base. So it doesn't seem like Hamilton, who has struggled at the plate to the tune of a .115 batting average with no homers and one RBI in 27 major league plate appearances this season, offers much flexibility.

The bottom line is that the Cardinals have so many players on the 15-day disabled list that most of the 40-man roster of major league eligible players is spoken for. But that is likely to be only a temporary problem.

Both David Freese and Nick Punto were expected to head to minor league rehab assignments today with an eye on being back in the St. Louis dugout within a week or so. Not only is Punto capable of playing all over the infield, but the return of Freese will relieve Daniel Descalso from starting at third base most of the time so he is free to play more of a utility role.

The Cardinals will miss Pujols' bat and glove, no doubt. But having a much better bench that gives La Russa the opportunity to pull more strings and push more buttons should help give the Birds a better chance to win.

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