Albert Pujols has a bum hamstring

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Last night we saw Albert Pujols walk off the field a tad gimpy after running out a grounder and subsequently leave the game early. Now we know what we had previously only suspected: he has a hamstring strain.

It’s being termed “mild,” so that’s good, but either way the Cardinals would be wise to let him sit for the upcoming series against the Astros. Sure, he’s essential, but unlike in past years, Tony La Russa has a plausible if only temporary replacement for Pujols at first base in Lance Berkman.

It looks like it will be a long and tough fight in the NL Central this year. Better to have the big guy healthy later even if it means resting him up now.

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.