Izzy says Pujols' return is imminent
Trainer, skipper more cautious in appraising slugger's progress
By Conor Nicholl / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Jason Isringhausen said Albert Pujols, sidelined with a right oblique strain, could return to the Cardinals in the Detroit series starting June 23.
"We should get Albert back in Detroit," the Cardinals' closer said after Sunday's game. "That should help take the load off Scott [Rolen] and Juan [Encarnacion]."
Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg offered a sarcastic response when told of Isringhausen's comment.
"If Izzy says it, then it must be gospel," he said.
Weinberg said Pujols, the Major League leader in homers (25) and RBIs (65), is feeling better.
"He is progressing," Weinberg said. "He is satisfied today and took some ground balls and played catch, did some running and hit in the cage. What we will do is repeat it tomorrow during the off-day. He will start hitting off the coaches on Tuesday."
The slugger took some soft toss before Sunday's game, but has yet to face live pitching.
Weinberg said the ground balls on Sunday were not an aggressive movement for Pujols. The first baseman also took grounders on the field before Friday's contest.
"It was just normal," Weinberg said. "He took ground balls. He is tolerating everything well."
Weinberg said there is no date set for Pujols' return. The first baseman could be activated as soon as Tuesday.
"There is no timetable yet," the trainer said. "Each time he is satisfied with something, we get closer and closer. We will see how he does with hitting off coaches on Tuesday."
Pujols was unavailable for comment. He stated on Friday that he would play when he was 100 percent. The slugger also said he would only play first and not DH. The Cardinals' next two series are in American League parks.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said on Saturday he thinks Pujols can be ready by the All-Star break, a statement he reiterated on Sunday.
The team is playing very well without its slugger. After Sunday's win, the team is 8-5 without Pujols and is batting .297, tops in the National League and second-best in the Majors.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
I made a bet in 2003 that the Devil Rays would win the 2008 World Series. Oh so close.