Devin Mesoraco cleared to begin rehab assignment — as a left fielder — Monday at AAA Louisville

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Devin Mesoraco is still unable to maintain a squatting position because of a lingering left hip impingement, but he and the Reds have a devised a plan that will allow him to return to action this season. And perhaps as early as next week.

Mesoraco, who hasn’t made a start at catcher since April 11 and has been on the disabled list since May 25, is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday as the starting left fielder at Triple-A Louisville. He has not played any outfield in the minors or majors, but the Reds are willing to experiment because they want his bat back in the lineup. Hip surgeon Bryan Kelly has signed off on the idea.

MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon says Mesoraco will need at least 3-4 games at Louisville to learn left field and get his timing right. He’s been doing outfield drills for over a week now, so that should help.

The 26-year-old had an .893 OPS, 25 homers, and 80 RBI in 114 games last season.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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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).