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Pujols hurt; Rolen, Feliz, Contreras on DL

4/25/2011

• Just as St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols was starting to look like the hitter fantasy owners know and love, he pulled up while running in the seventh inning of Sunday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds, striking fear into the hearts of thousands. The Cardinals said he left the game with "mild tightness" in his left hamstring and Pujols is doing his part to diffuse speculation of any serious injury. Speaking about how his hamstring felt after the game, Pujols told reporters, "The test was pretty good. I don't think it's too bad." Nonetheless, it would not be surprising if Pujols is kept out for at least the first game of the Houston series (which begins Tuesday; the team has Monday off) to ensure he is not risking further injury.

According to MLB.com, Pujols first felt the discomfort in the back of his thigh when he was about halfway down the first base line Sunday night and opted to play it safe. "I just felt a little tight, and I just pulled off," Pujols said. "I think I prefer it tight than a blown-out hamstring, you know?" Yes, Albert, fantasy owners prefer that as well.

• During that weekend series against the Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds were without their third baseman -- and former Cardinal -- Scott Rolen as he landed on the disabled list. Rolen is officially listed as out with a sore left shoulder, but he received cortisone injections in both his shoulder and his neck on Thursday, according to Associated Press reports. Rolen has a long history of issues with his left shoulder, including a separated shoulder in 2002 and labral surgery in 2005. Rolen also had a subsequent surgery to address scar tissue in the shoulder in 2007. Given his history, it's no surprise the Reds opted to give their 36-year old corner infielder some additional down time. A report on Cincinnati.com indicated that Rolen agreed with the move. "I think that's the best course," he said. "Let everything calm itself down. Let the medicine get in there and work."

Neck, upper back and shoulder issues are often interrelated and the chronicity of Rolen's shoulder problems can certainly complicate the recovery, especially if he tries to press. While the team hopes he will only miss the minimal DL time (meaning he could return May 6), the plan will become clearer after Rolen has a few days of rest.

On Friday, we hinted that Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill could be headed for the DL with his strained hamstring, particularly given his problematic hamstring injury last year. Turns out, the hunch was a good one. The Blue Jays have indeed placed Hill on the DL retroactive to Wednesday. The hope has to be that this can keep the hamstring from being problematic throughout the season.

• The Philadelphia Phillies' closer carousel continues to go round. With Brad Lidge starting the season on the DL with a rotator cuff strain, Jose Contreras held down the fort. Until this past weekend, that is, when Contreras was sent to the DL with an injury to his throwing arm. Contreras has a right flexor-pronator strain (muscle mass on the inner elbow responsible for rotation of the forearm and grip on the ball) and is returning to Philadelphia for further evaluation, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Contreras had not pitched in three days after developing soreness in his forearm. If indeed it is solely a flare-up from overuse, then Contreras should be able to gradually resume throwing after a period of rest and recovery. If, however, there is a more sinister underlying problem then all timetables go out the window. In the meantime, the Phillies plan to use Ryan Madson in the closer role.

• The Texas Rangers are also forced to make a change at closer, now that Neftali Feliz is on the DL with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Feliz experienced tightness in his shoulder Friday while warming up. After he struggled a bit on the mound Wednesday, the team decided not to take any chances and imposed the shutdown with the hope that he will only require the minimum stay. While any issue with a thrower's shoulder raises some red flags, the fact that the Rangers appear to have jumped on this early is encouraging.

• In the good news department, the Milwaukee Brewers have to be excited about the imminent return of outfielder Corey Hart to the lineup. Hart, who has been on the DL since the start of the season with a left oblique injury could rejoin the team Tuesday after one final rehab outing in Nashville on Monday. The Brewers website notes that the team could opt to delay his return until Wednesday. The timing of the move will depend on how Hart feels the timing of his bat is shaping up. Most importantly, there appear to be no residual effects of the injury; it's just a matter of getting Hart up to big league speed.

• Meanwhile Hart's teammate Zack Greinke had another rehab outing Sunday, the success of which depends on what you're measuring. Greinke is pain-free and his velocity was good. He appeared to fatigue and with that, lost some of his command. As Greinke told the Tennessean, "Through almost the whole first two innings I felt real good. But they had a couple long at-bats and I hadn't really had any real long innings yet." The main issue for Greinke in recent weeks is no longer the rib (which has healed) but building up his arm strength after zero spring training outings. Given that the team is interested in having him available for the remainder of the season, a return in the first week of May -- not late April as some had hoped -- appears to be the most likely scenario.

Florida Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison has tweeted that he is out of a cast and into a walking boot. This is a good sign that he is being allowed to progress with weightbearing through his recently sprained foot, although he still has quite a ways to go before baseball activity.