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Cardinals guessing Pujols lost for more than a month

6/4/2006

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will be re-examined Sunday but is expected to go on the disabled list after straining his right oblique muscle Saturday, and the club fears the injury will keep Pujols sidelined for a "significant" period.

"He's sore," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Sunday. "I think
we'll disable him."

Although the move was not yet official, Pujols was not listed on
the lineup card. Minor league call-up Chris Duncan was, and he took
batting practice.

Pujols had not been examined by team physician Dr. George
Paletta, so the team was uncertain how long last year's NL MVP
would be sidelined. Pujols has 25 homers and 65 RBI.

Jim Edmonds, nursing an abdominal injury that has sidelined him
for a week, played first base in place of Pujols. Scott Rolen was
plugged into Pujols' No. 3 slot in the lineup.

Edmonds, an eight-time Gold Glove center fielder, has been
unable to run since being injured. But La Russa noted that he can
swing a bat, and said Edmonds would not worsen his injury by
playing.

Pujols, who leads the major leagues with 25 home runs and 65 RBI and has averaged 158 games played in his first five seasons, left St. Louis' 8-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs after two innings. He pulled up and grabbed his right side on Aramis Ramirez's foul ball with one out in the second. He finished the inning at first base after consulting with a team trainer and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa but was replaced in the third.

"Obviously, we have significant concerns about the severity," team Paletta said. "This injury can put you out for weeks."

Paletta said Pujols, who would be making his first trip to the DL, could be out for as long as six weeks.

"If you told me right now he'd be out two weeks ... I'd buy you dinner the rest of the year," La Russa said Saturday. "I just don't think after talking to Dr. Paletta that two weeks from now, Albert will be ready to go.

"He's going to miss a significant period of time," La Russa added.

John Rodriguez moved into the third slot, playing left field, and Hector Luna moved from left field to first base.

"He could come in [Sunday] and if he doesn't have a lot of soreness, you say, 'it's mild or a Grade I," Paletta was quoted as saying in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "If he comes in [Sunday] and he can't rotate his trunk at all, you say, 'it's severe, Grade II or Grade III.' "

An injury beyond Grade I probably would require a minimum two to six weeks' recovery, Paletta said.

"You can't play with this at 60-70 percent," trainer Barry Weinberg told the Post-Dispatch.

Pujols dressed and left Busch Stadium without speaking to the media. His outstanding start has prompted talk of the slugger challenging Barry Bonds' single-season record of 73 home runs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.