Tony La Russa on Albert Pujols’ rehab assignment: “He doesn’t need it”

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Not only are the Cardinals hoping Albert Pujols will be able to come back from a fractured wrist shortly after the All-Star break instead of the initial August return timetable, manager Tony La Russa said yesterday that they expect him to rejoin the lineup without even requiring a minor-league rehab assignment.

“He doesn’t need it,” La Russa told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “He could go to September 1 and take X number of simulations and be ready.”

Rehab stints are fairly standard for significant injuries, even among superstar players, but La Russa was pretty adamant that Pujols is different because “experience is a great equalizer.”

Pujols actually wanted to avoid the DL altogether, insisting he could simply play through the broken wrist, so I guess a few weeks on the sidelines and a return without facing any minor-league pitching is like sitting out the expected 4-6 weeks compared to that.

Diamondbacks place Shelby Miller on the 10-day disabled list

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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that starter Shelby Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Miller will get a second opinion on his elbow on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Pitcher Silvino Bracho has been called up from Triple-A Reno to take Miller’s spot on the roster.

Miller, 26, left Sunday’s start with what was described at the time as forearm tightness. Through his first four starts, Miller is carrying a 4.09 ERA with a 20/12 K/BB ratio in 22 innings.

Bracho, 24, has pitched quite well in 6 2/3 innings of relief at Reno. He’s given up just one unearned run on four hits and a walk (intentional) with 12 strikeouts.

Archie Bradley figures to take Miller’s spot in the starting rotation as Bracho will work middle relief.

Eric Thames hit two more homers

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And John Lackey is livid.

The Brewers’ first baseman homered in each of his first two plate appearances against Reds starter Amir Garrett on Monday evening, helping his team to a 6-1 lead after two frames. The first was a solo blast in the first inning, and the second was a two-run shot to the opposite field in the second inning.

According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Thames has tied the Brewers’ record for home runs in April with 10. Carlos Lee also hit 10 homers in April 2006.

Seven of Thames’ 10 home runs have come against the Reds. Including his first two at-bats on Monday night, Thames is hitting .379/.474/.924 with 17 RBI along with the 10 dingers. Not too shabby from a guy the Brewers signed to a three-year, $16 million contract during the offseason.

Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio both recently implied Thames is using performance-enhancing drugs, but Thames was tested immediately after last Monday’s game against the Cubs.