Albert Pujols starting at third base for second time this season

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Albert Pujols went eight years between starts at third base before playing there on May 16, but now less than three weeks later he’s back at the hot corner.

Pujols, who went 0-for-4 in that May 16 start, is playing third base and batting third for the Cardinals tonight against Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants.

Lance Berkman takes over for Pujols at first base, which he played for most of the past six seasons before shifting back to the outfield this year, and Jon Jay is in right field.

In between third base starts Pujols hit .269 with two homers and a .745 OPS in 13 games.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.