Albert Pujols to undergo more tests on sprained left wrist

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8:00 p.m. EDT: The Cardinals don’t intend to immediately place Pujols on the disabled list with the sprained left wrist and shoulder injury he suffered Sunday.  Pujols said he isn’t yet certain how serious the problems are.

“To be honest, I can’t give you guys too much until the X-rays and an MRI  tomorrow,” he said. “I know I’m pretty sore. Am I worried? Of course. Hopefully, everything will come out negative
tomorrow. When I come out of a game, believe me, something is really wrong. Hopefully, cross our fingers and I’ll be all right.”

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Ugly scene in St. Louis.

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was lifted in the sixth inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Royals after appearing to injure his left wrist and shoulder while stretching for a wayward throw from second baseman Pete Kozma.

Kozma made a nice play, ranging to his right and firing off a throw while leaping away from the infield. But the ball was not on target and Pujols jammed his extended left arm into the body of Wilson Betemit, who was trucking down the first base line.

Pujols immediately hit the ground in pain and his wrist began showing significant swelling within seconds. It’s quite possible that he suffered a fracture.

Pujols homered in the bottom of the fifth inning after taking an up-and-in pitch from Royals reliever Louis Coleman. The go-ahead shot left Busch Stadium in under two seconds and put a charge into the crowd, but that energy was erased quickly in the top of the sixth when Albert hit the deck.

A free agent this winter, Pujols had mashed eight home runs and tallied 14 RBI in 17 games this month. He was quickly making up for a slow offensive start. Now it seems that all could be put on hold for a while.

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UPDATE, 4:22 PM: According to the Cardinals’ television broadcast (FS Midwest), Pujols has been diagnosed with a sprained left wrist. He will be examined by a physician Monday. So far, the news is promising.

UPDATE, 5:34 PM: La Russa revealed very little in his postgame press conference, telling reporters only that “there’s a chance” Pujols avoided a major injury. The Cardinals tend to keep injury information close to the vest and might not address the matter further until Monday afternoon, after the slugger is reevaluated. La Russa did say that Pujols had “good strength” in his wrist during initial tests.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.