Albert Pujols

Report: Albert Pujols could return around the All-Star break

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Albert Pujols is not like you and me.

In a stunning development, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Albert Pujols’ fractured left wrist has shown “significant improvement,” which could enable him to return “immediately after the All-Star break, if not before.”

After receiving “aggressive treatment to promote healing of the bone,” Pujols underwent a follow-up CT scan Friday, which found a diminished fissure on the distal tip of his left radius. He’s scheduled to be reexamined Monday and barring something unforeseen, it is expected that he will be cleared to resume baseball activities immediately.

When Pujols fractured his wrist on June 19, he was originally expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, but Strauss writes that the “best-case scenario” is that he could return during the Cardinals’ upcoming four-game series against the Diamondbacks, which begins next Thursday. It’s more likely, however, that they hold him out through the All-Star break. Still, I’m pretty sure the Cardinals won’t mind waiting a few extra days if it means they can have their first baseman (and occasional third baseman) back to make a second-half playoff push.

Pujols, who is set to become a free agent this winter, is hitting .279/.355/.500 with 17 homers and 45 RBI over 318 plate appearances this season. He was batting .317 with eight homers and a 1.197 OPS in June prior to the injury.

Report: Teams have inquired with the Angels about Hector Santiago

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 20:  Hector Santiago #53 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Monday that the Angels have received inquiries from multiple teams concerning starter Hector Santiago. He adds that the club is willing to listen to offers. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Marlins are among the teams that have inquired.

Santiago, 28, has pitched to a 4.32 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 47 walks in 110 1/3 innings. Sabermetric statistics such as FIP, xFIP, and SIERA think the lefty has pitched even worse than his ERA indicates however, pitting 2016 as his worst performance to date.

Santiago is earning $5 million this season and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility going into 2017.

We also learned earlier that, in an effort to bolster their starting rotation, the Marlins have also shown interest in Wade Miley of the Mariners and Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies.

Prince Fielder will undergo season-ending neck surgery this week

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 10: Prince Fielder #84 takes a swing during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 7-5. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
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The Rangers placed DH Prince Fielder on the disabled list last week due to more neck discomfort. On Friday, Fielder met with Dr. Drew Dossett, who performed spinal fusion surgery on Fielder in 2014 for a herniated disk in his neck. Dossett has recommended another procedure, so Fielder will undergo season-ending surgery this week, Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports.

Fielder was having a rough season, batting .212/.292/.334 with eight home runs and 44 RBI in 370 plate appearances. He played in only 42 games in 2014, but returned in 2015 looking more like his old self. Unfortunately, neck and back issues are notoriously difficult to fix. Hopefully, this upcoming procedure does the trick for Fielder.

Fielder is owed $24 million per season through 2020, with the Tigers paying $6 million of it per season.