Report: Albert Pujols could return around the All-Star break

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Albert Pujols is not like you and me.

In a stunning development, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Albert Pujols’ fractured left wrist has shown “significant improvement,” which could enable him to return “immediately after the All-Star break, if not before.”

After receiving “aggressive treatment to promote healing of the bone,” Pujols underwent a follow-up CT scan Friday, which found a diminished fissure on the distal tip of his left radius. He’s scheduled to be reexamined Monday and barring something unforeseen, it is expected that he will be cleared to resume baseball activities immediately.

When Pujols fractured his wrist on June 19, he was originally expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, but Strauss writes that the “best-case scenario” is that he could return during the Cardinals’ upcoming four-game series against the Diamondbacks, which begins next Thursday. It’s more likely, however, that they hold him out through the All-Star break. Still, I’m pretty sure the Cardinals won’t mind waiting a few extra days if it means they can have their first baseman (and occasional third baseman) back to make a second-half playoff push.

Pujols, who is set to become a free agent this winter, is hitting .279/.355/.500 with 17 homers and 45 RBI over 318 plate appearances this season. He was batting .317 with eight homers and a 1.197 OPS in June prior to the injury.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.