ST. PETERSBURG — Albert Pujols might be back sooner than expected.
The Cardinals first baseman and three-time NL MVP has shown "significant improvement" in his fractured left wrist thanks to aggressive treatment to promote healing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, and he could return to the club immediately after the All-Star break.
Pujols was injured June 19 and was expected to miss four to six weeks. St. Louis' first game after the break is July 15 in Cincinnati.
A follow-up CT scan performed Friday found a diminished fissure on the distal tip of Pujols' left radius, according to the Post-Dispatch. He's scheduled to be examined again Monday and could be cleared to resume baseball-related activities.
"He got the test and he's working," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "I'm just really pleased with a lot of good news on that front."
Pujols had bounced back from a poor April and was batting .279 with a .355 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in 73 games.
JETER REHAB: Yankees SS Derek Jeter took the first step in his return from a calf strain, going 1-for-2 with a walk and cleanly fielding five balls in five innings for Double-A Trenton.
In other Yankees news, RHP Brian Gordon was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when RHP Bartolo Colon came off the disabled list. And RHP Carlos Silva was released from his minor-league contract because of shoulder problems.
RECORD BONUS: The Rangers signed Dominican OF Nomar Mazara to a $5 million bonus, a record for international prospects. Mazara, 16, is a 6-foot-5 slugger who bats left-handed.
ANGELS: RF Torii Hunter was held out because of a bruised left hand. … RH reliever Fernando Rodney, rehabbing from an upper back strain, was shut down indefinitely because of ongoing back discomfort.
BLUE JAYS: Manager John Farrell and RH reliever Jon Rauch were ejected in the ninth inning against the Phillies. Frustrated at umpire Alfonso Marquez after Ryan Howard drew a walk on a close pitch, Rauch lost his temper when Shane Victorino hit an RBI single and had to be restrained by his manager, his jersey getting pulled off in the struggle. Rauch fired his cap in disgust as he headed into the dugout. Farrell continued the argument and was also tossed.
BRAVES: RHP Cristhian Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, and RHP Cory Gearrin was recalled.
BREWERS: RH reliever Takashi Saito was activated from the 60-day disabled list, and RHP Tim Dillard was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
CUBS: CF Marlon Byrd, who missed six weeks after being beaned, was activated off the 15-day disabled list and was in the starting lineup.
DODGERS: SS Rafael Furcal, on the disabled list since June 4 with a strained left oblique, is set to be activated today. SS Dee Gordon is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.
INDIANS: RHP Fausto Carmona strained his right quadriceps when he tripped and fell hard while running out a grounder in the third inning.
MARINERS: RHP Blake Beavan will be called up from Triple-A Tacoma to start today. He'll take the spot of LHP Erik Bedard, who went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a sprained left knee. … Rookie 2B Dustin Ackley missed a second straight game with bruised ribs, and C Miguel Olivo missed his third with a tight right hamstring.
MARLINS: INF Jose Lopez was designated for assignment, and OF Bryan Peterson was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.
METS: SS Jose Reyes was pulled from the game against the Yankees after two innings with left hamstring tightness. The team called the move precautionary.
PIRATES: INF Ronny Cedeno went on the seven-day concussion disabled list. INF Pedro Ciriaco was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.