John Lackey to make minor league rehab start Monday

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It was easy to think the worst when John Lackey left his start against the Blue Jays on April 6 with a right arm injury, but he’s already on track to return to game action.

Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports that Lackey is expected to make a minor league rehab start Monday with Double-A Portland. The veteran right-hander was placed on the disabled list earlier this month with a strained biceps muscle, but he resumed throwing earlier this week after symptoms subsided.

Franklin Morales is also expected to pitch for Portland on Monday as he rehabs from a back injury and could be an option for the rotation if Lackey suffers a setback. Alfredo Aceves has allowed five runs in 10 innings over two starts while filling in for Lackey. He’s slated to make his next start Monday against the Athletics.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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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).