Cardinals GM says Albert Pujols’ return timetable is “fluid”

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Albert Pujols was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable for his fractured wrist, but as you’d expect from someone who’s never played fewer than 143 games in a season he’s already talking about getting back in the lineup.

News that Pujols would likely be in a soft cast for four weeks seemingly ruled out a return at the front end of his timetable, but general manager John Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that “everything is fluid” and there’s a CT scan scheduled for next week.

Pujols sounds doubly frustrated by the injury because it’s not something he can simply play through by being tough, which he’s done plenty of in previous seasons.

In his absence manager Tony La Russa indicated to Strauss that rookie Mark Hamilton will likely get at least a couple starts per week at first base, with Lance Berkman seeing the bulk of the time there and Jon Jay getting more action in right field.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.