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Injury could force Pujols to pinch hitting

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Injury could force Pujols to pinch hitting

Postby jebatzel » Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:28 pm

Injury could force Pujols to pinch hitting
By R.B. Fallstrom
AP Sports Writer

Cardinals cleanup hitter Albert Pujols has a sprained right elbow that could reduce him to pinch hitting duties for the next three weeks.

Pujols, the NL rookie of the year in 2001 and the MVP runner-up last year, was batting .362 with two home runs and nine RBIs heading into a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.

He was hurt when he slipped making a throw Monday in Milwaukee during the team's just-completed nine-game trip, and results of an MRI indicated the problem.

``I knew right away that I was injured,'' Pujols said. ``It was bothering me pretty much, and the next day that was why I didn't play.''

Orlando Palmeiro was playing left field, Pujols' position, and Jim Edmonds was batting cleanup in Friday's lineup. La Russa said Pujols might be able to play first base, Tino Martinez' position, in a pinch in a double switch.

``If this was the American League, he could get five at-bats tonight,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ``I heard he's fine to swing, but he cannot throw, should not throw, until the ligament is repaired.

``He's going to be a very dangerous pinch hitter, but you can't save him for a magical moment because you can't run out of guys.''

Pujols wasn't looking forward to spending time on the bench.

``That's the worst thing in this game, pinch hitting,'' Pujols said. ``I don't want to be a pinch hitter. It's real hard to be on the bench; I can't stand it when I get a day off. It's going to be frustrating if it takes three weeks.''

This has been an injury-plagued first month for Pujols, who also missed time with a pulled hamstring.

``It's been a real, real tough month,'' he said. ``Hopefully, all my injuries came this month.''

He was hoping it would be a short absence from the lineup, regardless of the medical recommendation.

``It could be two or three weeks and it could be two or three days,'' Pujols said. ``You never know with those injuries.''

The Cardinals got a regular back just as they lost Pujols, with second baseman Fernando Vina in the lineup for the first time since April 10. Vina has had tendinitis in his right ring finger.

Miguel Cairo had been taking the place of Vina, who was batting .216 with four RBIs, both in the leadoff slot and at second base.

Vina has had two cortisone shots for the injury.

``It was so swollen, you couldn't even see the bone,'' Vina said. ``I feel no pain right now. I think I'll be all right.''
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