Pujols had a cortisone injection Monday night and team medical staff decided he should sit out of the second game of the series against the Chicago Cubs. Pujols, who had made 50 consecutive starts, anticipates returning to the lineup Wednesday night.
Pujols said the injury has bothered him for about two weeks and underwent an MRI exam last Sunday.
"It just got frustrating to the point that I'm like 'Listen, we need to do something,'" Pujols said. "I've been playing with pain and taking anti-inflammatories, and an injection hopefully works. It's pretty painful."
Manager Tony La Russa said Pujols needed a break to let the injury calm down, and the three-time NL MVP was day to day. Pujols took some swings Tuesday and said the elbow felt better, and might be available for pinch-hit duty.
La Russa held up making out the lineup card before checking with Pujols.
"I'm never disappointed when we don't have to figure a way to get him out," Cubs interim manager Mike Quade said. "My bet is if it's a close game we'll have to figure out a way to get him out late, because that's the kind of guy he is."
Pujols was injured when he landed awkwardly while trying to make a diving play earlier this month in Pittsburgh, and aggravated the injury attempting to make another diving play in Washington. He has complained of soreness lately, and considered flying back to St. Louis last week when the team was in Milwaukee.
"I've dived probably 1,000 or 2,000 times for a ball in my career and never had anything like this," Pujols said. "I don't want to put an excuse or anything like that about why I'm not playing, it just got to the point where we had to address it."
Pujols played in all but one of the first 142 games, getting his lone day off on April 29.
Pujols said he's been getting under the ball since the injury. He homered twice on Sunday in Atlanta but is batting .214 with six homers and 12 RBIs since Aug. 25.
"The pain was more intense, so he got the injection," La Russa said. "Yesterday it pained him more than it's been paining him.
"We'll get him back as soon as we can."
Pujols has had trouble with the right elbow for years and underwent surgery to remove bone chips and trim bone spurs after last season.
"It's not drama, he just can't play because his elbow's sore," La Russa said. "It's not something you surgically repair."
Pujols was leading the National League with 39 homers and 104 RBIs and was seventh in hitting with a .308 average, heading into Tuesday's games.