Albert Pujols was left off the National League All-Star team, it was announced over the weekend. But all the talk around the Cardinals these days is that he's going to be back well before his predicted return date -- and possiby before the mid-summer classic.
During the game broadcasts over the weekend from Tampa, Fox Sports Midwest announcers said Pujols is progressing much faster than originally expected. He's going to be allowed to resume baseball activities this week and manager Tony La Russa said it's unlikely Pujols will need a rehab assignment when he comes back.
National League manager Bruce Bochy is going to look pretty silly if he left the senior circuit's top fan vote getter off the roster because he assumed Pujols was going to be out... But then he comes back to the active roster before the break.
That being said... I'm not sure how to feel about this one. Obviously, I'd like to see the big guy back in the middle of the lineup as soon as possible. But is it worth it to rush him back now if he suffers a setback that could put him out for the rest of the season?
Although details about the injury have been scarce, the impression I get is that there is a hair line fracture close to Pujols' wrist that doesn't go all the way across the bone. It's partially healed. But it's not completely healed. So what happens if Albert bangs the arm on another base runner? What happens if he tries to stop his swing and puts a whole lot of torque on the bone? Could it snap all the way? If it does, he's just about certainly done for the year.
Now that the All-Star Game is seemingly out of the picture, I'd like to see Pujols let the arm heal for at least another couple of weeks with plans to return to playing first base for the Cardinals the first game after the break. If we thought Albert was going to be out until sometime in August, getting him back in mid-July is a bonus.
The Cardinals just need to find a way to hold serve and play .500 baseball for the next 10 games or so... And, hopefully in the meantime, the Redbirds can find a way to bolster the bullpen for a stretch run.