Ahead of schedule, Pujols set to return

ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols could be back in the Cardinals' lineup tonight, beating the initial timetable for his return from a broken left wrist by a month.

After taking indoor batting practice and fielding grounders outside Monday, Pujols said there was no pain and added that he felt great. He's scheduled to be examined by team physician Dr. George Paletta this morning.

"I can't wait to get back on the field," Pujols said. "If it's not (tonight), whenever the time comes will be the right time."

Today is the first day Pujols is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list. He broke the wrist in a collision at first base trying to make a tag with his glove hand June 19.

The team initially believed the three-time NL MVP would be out six weeks.

The Cardinals lost five of their first six games without Pujols but recovered to 6-7 overall after Monday's win over the Reds.

Cardinals C Gerald Laird said he'd begin a three-day rehab from a broken right index finger today with Triple-A Memphis and hoped to be back Friday. He missed his 38th game Monday.

Braves: 3B Chipper Jones and manager Fredi Gonzalez said they regret criticizing umpire Mark Ripperger, who on Sunday called two strikes on Jones to end the game. Both said they have not been fined. "There's some really good umpires in that crew," said Jones, who sat out Monday after having a cortisone shot in his sore right knee and expects to return tonight.

brewers: LF Ryan Braun sat out a second straight game. He strained his left calf running to first base Saturday.

cubs: RHP Casey Coleman was recalled from Triple-A Iowa and started against the Nationals. Coleman got a no-decision, allowing three runs (two earned) in 51/3 innings. Scheduled starter Ryan Dempster was hospitalized over the weekend in Chicago with stomach and back pain. He is day to day and likely to make a start before the All-Star break. Reliever Chris Carpenter was optioned to Iowa.

indians: Josh Tomlin reached a milestone against the Yankees, pitching at least five innings in each of 29 appearances to start his career, the only major-league pitcher since 1919 to do it.

nationals: Bryce Harper was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League, where the team said last year's No. 1 overall pick will spend the rest of the season. At Class-A Hagerstown, he batted .318 with 14 home runs, 46 RBIs and 19 steals. GM Mike Rizzo wants Harper, 18, to also play in the Arizona Fall League and in Triple A, meaning he almost certainly won't be on the opening-day roster next year.

pirates: Joel Hanrahan improved to 25-for-25 in save opportunities Monday, a team record for most consecutive saves without a blown save and tying the team mark for most saves before the All-Star break.

red sox: 3B Kevin Youkilis left as a precaution in the fourth inning after getting hit by a pitch in the upper back. It was the 77th time he has been hit, extending the club career record.

Rockies: SS Troy Tulowitzki left with tightness in his right quadriceps after grounding into a double play in the fourth inning against the Braves. Jonathan Herrera replaced him. Before the game, OF Cole Garner was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs as Carlos Gonzalez (bruised right wrist) sat out. Gonzalez can't grip a bat after he ran into the centerfield wall Sunday. RHP Clayton Mortensen was sent to Colorado Springs.

white sox: Adam Dunn surpassed Joe DiMaggio for 72nd place with his 362nd career home run. Earlier he ended an 0-for-19 slump with a hit.

Ahead of schedule, Pujols set to return 07/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 1:21am]

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