Albert Pujols has been limited to designated hitter duties recently due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but while it’s been painful to watch him run the bases, he’s apparently feeling some improvement.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com passes along word that Pujols will play first base tonight against the Mariners for the first time since April 15. The 33-year-old has appeared as the designated hitter in each of his last seven starts and nine out of his last 10. He said earlier this week that serving as the DH gives him the best chance to get over the hump with the foot injury, so the Angels aren’t going to push him. But it’s a positive sign that he’s playing the field again.
Pujols is batting .267/.385/.413 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a .798 OPS through 91 plate appearances this season. He is in the second year of a 10-year, $240 million contract.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.