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.

Aaron Judge has a “pretty significant strain” of his oblique

Aaron Judge
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In case you missed it over the weekend, the New York Yankees suffered yet another huge blow when another huge star went on the injured list. The star: Aaron Judge, who strained his oblique during Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Royals.

Yesterday the Yankees placed him on the injured list. In so doing, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called it a “pretty significant strain in there.” The team did not offer a timeline, but Boone said they’ll monitor Judge for a couple of weeks to see where he is. Oblique strains, however, can cause a player to miss a lot of time. Four to six weeks is not unheard of for even moderate oblique strains. Guys with major strains have missed months.

Judge is the Yankees’ 13th player currently on the injured list and is the 14th Yankees player to visit it overall on the young season. Joining him there at the moment :

It’s an All-Star team’s worth of injuries. It’s such a good group of players that Ellsbury couldn’t even make the starting lineup of the all-injured team.

Though we often ignore it in season-long narratives of successful and unsuccessful teams, choosing to focus on great or poor performances, the fact of the matter is that team health is almost always a big, big factor in who wins and who loses. No one is going to cry for the Yankees here, of course, but at some point there are just too many injuries to overcome. One has to wonder if New York has reached that point yet.