Albert Pujols has to be very, very tired

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Mark Buehrle, when asked how he would pitch to Albert Pujols if he faces him tonight:

“High and inside. Hit ’em. Knock him off the plate. Hopefully he charges the mound.”

Of course he immediately backtracked, admitted he was joking and gave
all kinds of respect to Pujols. A shame, really, as I think a real war
of words and a genuine villain would make tonight a hell of a lot more
fun for everyone. Can you imagine the crowd’s reaction if someone threw
some chin music Pujols’ way at the All-Star Game? And then stood on the
mound and stared him down as he dusted himself off? Oh well, a boy can
dream, can’t he?

Of course, it may be a better move to simply challenge Albert with straight fastballs, because the guy is probably gassed at this point:

Albert and Deidre Pujols awoke early Monday morning, particularly
early given the Cardinals’ 1 a.m. return from a marathon day-night
doubleheader against the Cubs in Chicago . . . He arrived home at 2
a.m. Barely nine hours later, El Hombre walked into the downtown Hyatt
as baseball’s resident rock star, commanding a legion of media, a crush
of questions in English and Spanish and acknowledgment as unofficial
centerpiece for the Derby and tonight’s All-Star Game.

I’m pretty sure Pujols has been on every single broadcast, podcast,
cut-in, setup and photo-op originating from St. Louis since yesterday
morning. Understandable, but one wonders when, if at all, he gets a
break. More than any single player on any single team, the Cardinals
live or die with Albert Pujols’ performance. One hopes for their sake
that he can get a breather before the second half of the season starts.

Carlos Martínez to pitch out of bullpen upon return from injured list

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Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said pitcher Carlos Martínez will work out of the bullpen when he returns from the injured list, The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reports. Shildt noted that the decision is based on Martínez’s needs rather than the team’s needs, which suggests he may not yet have the strength to pitch as a starter.

Martínez, 27, opened the season on the injured list due to a right rotator cuff strain. The right-hander was also injured last year, battling lat and oblique injuries. He will go to extended spring training and likely begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Based on that time frame, Martínez should be activated around mid-May.

Last year, Martínez made 18 starts and 15 relief appearances, posting a 3.11 ERA with five saves and a 117/60 K/BB ratio across 118 2/3 innings. It is unclear what role(s) Martínez will have in the bullpen, but he could eventually help set up for closer Jordan Hicks.