The St. Louis Cardinals have not been able to catch a break this season but on Sunday Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols caught a break – only it wasn’t the good kind. It was confirmed today after a CT scan, that Pujols will miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured left forearm, just one day after he was injured during a home game against the Kansas City Royals.
It is the second big blow this season for the Cardinals, who are currently tied for first place with the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League’s Central Division. The first blow came back in February during spring training, when the Cardinals lost ace pitcher Adam Wainwright for the season, due to an elbow injury.
Pujols, who has had his arm in a splint since the incident, has a non-displaced fracture according to team doctors. He was injured after Wilson Betemit hit a chopper up the middle off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, as the second baseman made an awkward throw to first base, Pujols was pulled off the bag toward home. He tried to apply the tag to Betemit but Betemit ran into his glove hand and knocked the three-time NL MVP to the ground.
"He hit me on my wrist and my shoulder," Pujols said afterward. "He kind of jammed me back. It's the toughest play to make as a first baseman. It's a bang-bang play. I saw the replay a couple of times, but I didn't really want to look at it."
Despite the fact that Pujols’ numbers are down this year, he is still the biggest piece to St. Louis’ puzzle. They certainly will miss his bat in the middle of their lineup, despite only hitting .279 this season, though he has been hot recently, after a slow start.
Pujols is in a contract year and his injury could hurt that 10 year deal he was hoping to get. Instead of taking a smaller contract with the Cardinals this past winter, Pujols made it clear he wanted the most money in baseball to accompany a long-term contract. But his injury could have some major affects in his future; just ask Baltimore Orioles first baseman Derek Lee.
In 2006, fresh off a five-year, $65 million extension, Lee suffered the same injury in a collision with Rafael Furcal and his power numbers have not been the same since. In the four seasons before Lee’s injury he was averaging 34 home runs a season, while in the four season since he is averaging just 24. The injury can slow down the quickness in the batters wrist, significantly reducing a player’s bat speed.
The Cardinals hope to have him back by the end of July but an injury like this one leaves many questions that the Cardinals must now answer. The biggest question being whether or not the Cardinals playoff hopes are in jeopardy.
Photo Courtesy of: ASSOCIATED PRESS