Indians may give rookie Brantley a shot in left

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Michael Brantley made his big-league debut last September filling in for the injured Grady Sizemore in center field, but now that Sizemore is healthy the Indians are thinking about starting Brantley alongside him in left field.
Here’s manager Manny Acta:

What he did in September gives him a leg up on the position. That being said, we all know he’s 22 and we’re still not going to be handing out jobs because we all have to do what’s best for the Indians and for the kid himself.

His primary competition? Scrap-heap veterans Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, plus lesser prospects Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown. In other words, if the Indians are open to Brantley being ready for the majors at age 23 his odds of claiming the gig–or at least two-thirds of the gig, in a lefty-righty platoon with Kearns or Duncan–are pretty strong.
And if Brantley fares well right away his presence will likely result in Sizemore moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the order, because Brantley is a low-power speedster with a .387 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts in the minors. Baseball Think Factory projects Brantley to hit .282/.348/.360 as a rookie, while the Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide has him at .267/.337/.344.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).