At the time it looked much worse than the initial diagnosis of a sprain and sure enough the Cardinals have announced that Albert Pujols will be out for 4-6 weeks after further examination revealed a “non-displaced fracture” in his left forearm, near his wrist.
Losing him for at least a month is obviously a huge blow to the Cardinals, particularly since Pujols had successfully recovered from a career-worst start to hit .317 with eight homers and a 1.197 OPS in 17 games this month.
With that said, similar injuries on collisions at first base have caused players to miss significantly more than 4-6 weeks–with Cliff Floyd and his shattered wrist being one prominent example from 2000–and even the far end of that timetable would have Pujols returning in early August with 50 games left on the schedule.
Presumably the Cardinals will shift Lance Berkman to first base, with Jon Jay taking over as the primary right fielder. Another option would be to call up 26-year-old Mark Hamilton from Triple-A, where he’s hit .317 with 26 homers and a .971 OPS in three career stints totaling 145 games, and use him at first base while keeping Berkman in the outfield. St. Louis is relatively well-equipped to handle Pujols’ absence, but keeping pace with the Brewers and Reds atop the NL Central for even six weeks while waiting for the three-time MVP to return is asking a lot.