He’s baaaaack: Albert Pujols returns from fractured wrist, but not in lineup tonight

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UPDATE: Pujols has officially been activated from the disabled list after going through pregame workouts, but surprisingly he’s not in the starting lineup tonight. He is, however, available to pinch-hit.

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Amazing.

Brian Stull of 101-ESPN in St. Louis reports that doctors have cleared Albert Pujols to return just two weeks after a fractured wrist that was expected to knock him out for 4-6 weeks.

No roster move has been made yet, but it sounds like Pujols will indeed be in the Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Edinson Volquez and the rival Reds.

If true, that means Pujols will have missed just 13 games. With a fractured wrist.

St. Louis went 6-7 in his absence to hang on to first place in the NL Central at 46-40, with the Brewers (one game back), the Pirates (1.5), and the Reds (3.0) all within striking distance. And now we’ll see if Pujols can pick up right where he left off, as he was hitting .339 with eight homers and a 1.265 OPS in the 16 games leading up to the injury. Normally I’d note how wrist injuries often sap a hitter’s power initially, but at this point attaching anything “normal” to Pujols seems silly.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.