QUESTION: Regardless of how Albert Pujols says he feels or what the medical exams say, do you think it would be wise for the Cardinals to just allow him to continue to mend until after next week’s All-Star break? Or do you think the team should bring their slugger back as soon as he’s medically cleared?
Since I haven’t seen the CT scans, it’s a pretty tough call. Pujols insists he has experienced no discomfort recently. It’s his body and the Cardinals’ season. I’m not morally outraged if the player wants to push it.
PuJols’ personal-injury history tells us that he knows best when it comes to his body, his injuries, and how to care for himself. He hasn’t been wrong – yet. If Pujols says he’s ready, then he’s ready.
If he’s cleared, let him play. If any minor issue arises, he still has four free days next week because he’s not going to the All-Star Game.
The Cards have won five of their last seven game without Albert and are in first place. So if there is any medical reservation about Albert rushing back, then he shouldn’t rush back. Plenty of guys have suffered lingering effects from injuries of this sort. But if he is really pain-free – and only he would know – and he can really swing the bat, then it’s impossible to sit him out. He would be liked a caged tiger in the dugout. If he can really hit, play him.
LARRY BOROWSKY (Founder of Viva El Birdos and editor of “Maple Street Press Cardinals Annual”)
Albert Pujols on the DL is like Albert Pujols on the basepaths – you throw up the stop and he ignores you. In both of his previous trips to the DL, 2006 (oblique strain) and 2008 (strained calf), he returned to the lineup weeks ahead of schedule. The premature returns seemed reckless to many (including me), but he didn’t get re-injured in either case. Moreoever, in both cases Pujols was productive immediately upon his return. In his first month back from the DL in 2006 he hit .369/.444/.641 over 117 plate appearances; in 2008 he hit .337/.407/.474 over 113 plate appearances.
One can’t help but feel nervous about this; everyone from fans to team officials will be holding their breath on every checked swing. But the track record is encouraging. He has declared himself fit. Maybe we should just trust him.