June 20, 2011
By now, you've probably seen the play. It's ugly.
In the sixth inning of Sunday's game between the Royals and Cardinals, Wilson Betemit(notes) drilled a grounder up the middle. St. Louis second baseman Pete Kozma(notes) ranged far to his right, fielding the ball behind the bag, then made a leaping throw to first. But Kozma's momentum carried him toward left field, so the toss was offline, pulling Albert Pujols(notes) into the path of the runner. Betemit clipped the first baseman's glove hand on his way the bag.
Albert immediately grabbed his left wrist, ran into foul territory and fell to the ground in obvious pain. Brutal. The initial word on the injury was a sprained wrist.
Update, 1:20 pm ET: Bad news, gamers. It's reportedly a forearm fracture, expected recovery time 4-6 weeks. The Cards' horrible run of injuries continues, with the most horrible news yet.
Pujols is dealing with shoulder soreness as a result of the collision, too. These were a few of his post game comments, via MLB.com:
"I can't give you too much until we do X-rays tomorrow," Pujols told reporters after the game. "Pretty much right now, I'm just telling you I'm pretty sore in my wrist and my shoulder. We'll see tomorrow. We took a look at it. I passed a couple tests. But tomorrow, we still need to do an X-ray and an MRI. They can't tell anything with the machine that we have here."
That's right: "Can't tell anything with the machine that we have here." Apparently the Cards' medical staff only has access to a refurbished Canon color copier. Not surprisingly, it didn't reveal any problems.
Buster Olney skipped ahead to the absolute worst-case scenario in a Mike & Mike interview on Monday, calling Pujols' wrist issue "potentially history altering." So that helps no one. Thanks, Buster. Might as well just slap together a BR slide-show of the 15 most history-altering wrist injuries, while you're on a roll.
We won't pretend that fantasy owners or the Cards can find an adequate replacement for Pujols, despite the relative depth at his position. But we're still obligated to offer a handful of possibilities. Here's a quick, back-of-the-envelope ranking of a few first basemen who are currently available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues:
Justin Smoak(notes) (46 percent owned)
Mitch Moreland(notes) (43 percent)
Mark Trumbo(notes) (28)
Derrek Lee(notes) (25 percent)
Brett Wallace(notes) (18 percent)
Freddie Freeman(notes) (26 percent)
Ty Wigginton(notes) (22 percent)
Anthony Rizzo(notes) (18 percent)
Juan Rivera(notes) (4 percent)
James Loney(notes) (21 percent)
Luke Scott(notes) (24 percent)
Garrett Jones(notes) (9 percent)
And here's a link to Mr. Pianowski's recent corner infield Shuffle Up, if you're looking for additional names and/or hitting the trade market. St. Louis should get third baseman David Freese(notes) back in a week, which will help to some extent. He'll begin his rehab assignment on Monday night. Freese was hitting .356/.394/.471 before a broken left hand interrupted his season.
But he, like every other hitter in the player pool, is not Pujols. So this is basically a triage situation. Identify the categories where you can least afford to lose ground, try to address those, then hope Albert can return at something close to full-capacity. With wrist injuries, you always worry about a loss of power. Let's just get Pujols healthy first, then worry about the long-term, history-altering impact.
Photo via US Presswire
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