View Full Version : Pujols probl out quite some time

06-06-2006, 01:22 PM
MRI sheds little light on Pujols' return
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Associated Press
Posted: 16 hours ago

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The timetable for Albert Pujols' return was uncertain Monday after an MRI exam of a strained muscle on his right side was inconclusive.

The St. Louis Cardinals, who placed Pujols on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, had hoped the MRI would give them some indication of when he can play again. Instead, they are still wondering when Pujols, last year's NL MVP and the major league leader in home runs and RBIs this season, will be back.
"You just don't know," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "You can do anything you want to, but I'm not going to get into this day-to-day soap opera with Albert's this and Albert's that."

Pujols said he felt better Monday than the previous day, but didn't know what that meant. He realized his first stint on the DL could be a long one, with the most pessimistic assessment calling for a return after the All-Star break.

"It could be two weeks, it could be three, four, five or six," Pujols said. "Whatever weeks it's going to be, I'm going to take my time. It's terrible, but what can I do? I don't want to shoot myself."

Team doctors have told La Russa that Monday's MRI established only base data and that a future MRI, perhaps in a few weeks, would be more helpful in determining how long Pujols would be sidelined.

The positives, as spelled out by La Russa: Pujols is only 26, he left the game soon after being injured rather than aggravating it at the plate, and the injury is on his right side. For a right-handed hitter, it's much more difficult to recover from an injury to the left side.

"Those things tell me that maybe we'll catch a break, and it may be a few days less than what it could have been," La Russa said.

The injury interrupted what was shaping up as a record-challenging season for Pujols, who has 25 homers and 65 RBIs. His RBI total is already better than nine Cardinals season leaders, and even after missing most of the last two games Pujols was on pace for 72 homers and 188 RBIs.

La Russa is more concerned about what it means for the team, which led the NL Central by three games entering a three-game series against the second-place Reds on Monday night.

"What's really disappointing is we're a better club when he plays and we've got a hot race going," La Russa said. "But as a fan, which I am, it's disappointing, too.

"It would have been neat to give him 600 at-bats and see just what he could accomplish."

Pujols insisted that when he felt something pop on his right side while chasing a foul ball by the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez in the second inning on Saturday, a monster season did not flash by his eyes. He was worried what the injury would do to the team.

"Records are made to be broken, but if it doesn't happen this year, I don't think about it," Pujols said. "Seventy-three home runs or 75 or whatever is a lot of home runs, that's a lot of balls being hit out of the park, but I don't think about that.

"I was thinking about staying healthy and helping my team to win."

When he pulled up and grabbed his side, Pujols forgot all about the foul ball.

"You have to shoot me to get me out of the game," he said. "That's what it felt like."

Jim Edmonds played first base, Pujols' position, for the second straight game on Monday. Edmonds had been on the verge of going on the DL with an abdominal injury that prevented him from playing center field because of the running involved with the position.

For now at least Edmonds has found a way to contribute, going 3-for-3 Sunday after missing a week, even if he and the manager disagree on whether he's risking further injury by playing. La Russa said team medical officials have told him that Edmonds might encounter more pain but could not make the injury worse, while Edmonds said Dr. George Paletta, the team's orthopedic consultant, emphasized that he take it easy.

Edmonds said he would have played earlier if he was told it was a pain issue.

La Russa said he left a lineup spot open on Monday until consulting with Edmonds, who said he felt fine.

"If you have a crystal ball right now, he may play today and that would be the last game he plays," La Russa said. "It's a roll of the dice as far as how long he can play with it.

"What's not a roll of the dice is he's not going to cause damage to that area that makes it any worse than it is now."

06-06-2006, 01:34 PM
"What's really disappointing is we're a better club when he plays and we've got a hot race going," La Russa said. "But as a fan, which I am, it's disappointing, too.

And to me, as a REDS baseball fan, im not too disappointed. The game is full of good luck, bad luck and everything in between.

I only hope the same bad luck that has afflicted the Cards brings the Reds an equal and opposite reaction of GOOD luck.

06-06-2006, 01:49 PM

The injury that everyone--from the media to the over 400 emails I received--wants to know about is Albert Pujols. The slugger tore his oblique on an unusual fielding play, stabbing to his left, then quickly clutching at his lower right side. Normally, this injury is seen at the plate in hitters or on the mound in pitchers when a player has torqued his body past the point that the muscle could withstand the stress. There are some easy root causes, with dehydration, inflexibility, and trying to overswing/overrotate chief among them. This appears to be something of a fluke injury, though there is something to the idea that Pujols was “guarding” his sore back, causing unusual stress on his obliques. (Try this at home--tighten up your lower back muscles, then try and reach quickly to either side.) Sources tell me that Pujols' injury is a Grade 2 due to the “palpable defect” in his muscle, though the official damage won’t be known until an MRI on Monday.

Grade 2 is defined as a strain in which approximately half the thickness of the muscle is torn, creating significant pain, loss of strength and stability, discoloration and significant tenderness with possible palpable defect. If you need a definition of palpable defect, it’s a tear big enough to feel with your finger. Yeah, ouch.

Complicating the analysis is both Pujols’ lineup value and his demonstrated ability to play through pain. Coming back too quickly can be devastating for any muscle strain. The body rebuilds the muscle with scar, weakening it by definition, though muscle can of course be strengthened around the tear. Retearing the muscle creates a vicious cycle of problems that can cause the type of career-altering cascades we’ve seen in the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. or Gil Meche. I’d expect the Cards to be ultraconservative with this injury, keeping Pujols on the shelf beyond the minimum, but less than the oft-quoted six weeks. It is going to be a Charybdean temptation for both manager and staff to write Pujols’ name on the lineup card, one that will need to be balanced by the field, medical and front office staff. The best recent comp I can find for this was Trot Nixon last season. Nixon came back in just under a month from a typical left oblique strain. Finding any comparison for Pujols is difficult, so I’m not sure how much we can learn here.


# Albert Pujols had an MRI on his injured right oblique, but it cleared nothing up. The slugger will likely see small improvements over the next week--a reduction in the pain and swelling, an increase in his ability to move. It’s the type of thing that leads to players thinking they can come back and re-injuring themselves. The Cardinals have made some initial inquiries on the precision imaging cortisone procedure that was used by the Giants on some of their players this season, including Noah Lowry. No stone will be left unturned by the organization, yet the key will merely be patience and rest. Sing the Tom Petty song to yourself--the waiting is the hardest part.

06-06-2006, 01:59 PM
If you are the Cardinals, you are gonna have to err on the side of caution with this one. Especially if the Reds are the only team within earshot of you nearing mid-June.

Even if he stays out of the lineup until the All-Star Break, the Cards are going to be there in the race throughout the season. Many people are using Derek Lee's injury as a comparison to what the overall impact will mean by Pujols absence. I don't see it.

06-06-2006, 02:46 PM
Depends. If the Cards get into a 4 or 5 game losing skid, it could damage their mentality. Putting them in a bad position come time when Pujols is back. If they can stay around .500 or above .500, i think that will give the Cards momentum to believe they can get by without him. They need better pitching though, thats for darn sure.

06-06-2006, 02:55 PM
I only hope the same bad luck that has afflicted the Cards brings the Reds an equal and opposite reaction of GOOD luck.
All you gotta do is pray to Sir Isaac Newton :D