Pujols returns to lineup two days after injection

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Albert Pujols has rejoined the Cardinals’ lineup this afternoon, batting third and playing first base, just two days after receiving an anti-inflammatory shot in his sore lower back.
Pujols has been limited by back problems for much of spring training, sitting out most of last week and being a last-minute scratch from several different lineups, but an MRI exam Monday apparently showed nothing major.
That the Cardinals are willing to let him get right back into game action so quickly when resting him for another day or two in the middle of spring training wouldn’t impact much of anything suggests that they aren’t very worried. Hopefully he can avoid tweaking the injury again before Opening Day arrives.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.