The Redbird Report 03/10

The seemingly nationwide scare over the condition of first baseman Albert Pujols' elbow should have been softened a bit March 6-7 when Pujols homered in successive games, giving him three for the spring.

But Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor, did say that the elbow ailment was serious enough that it couldn't be fixed arthroscopically. Thus, the two alternatives are reconstructive surgery or no action at all. "It's not a curable problem without a reconstruction," Paletta said. "What we hope is this is a manageable problem."

Paletta said that Pujols could play his entire career without having surgery. "Probably. Possibly," Paletta said.

The Cardinals' perennial All-Star has a ligament tear in the elbow, plus bone spurs, inflammation and arthritis in the joint.

If Pujols would have to have surgery, he likely would be sidelined eight months, or at least a large part of one season. Manager Tony La Russa has pledged more rest this season for Pujols, who has played through a number of injuries, many of them leg ailments, in his seven seasons with the club.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--LH reliever Tyler Johnson almost certainly will start the season on the disabled list with a shoulder ailment. The good news is that Johnson won't need surgery.

"This is a treatable and somewhat preventable issue by doing the work that needs to be done," said Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor.

Johnson had complained of weakness and tightness in his shoulder as he tried to warm up before a scheduled appearance.

--CF Brian Barton, a Rule 5 draftee who had had only two hits in his first spring 11 at-bats, had four hits March 5, including a home run in a 6-5 loss to Washington. Later in the week, he had triples in back-to-back games. OF Ryan Ludwick, who had been even worse at 2-for-13 (.154) with five strikeouts, also homered and singled twice in the March 5 game. Other than Juan Gonzalez, they are the Cardinals' only two right-handed-hitting outfield candidates.

--RHP Adam Wainwright, the staff ace, had his contract renewed at $448,000. "I don't have any ill will toward 'Mo' (general manager John Mozeliak) or the organization for it," said Wainwright, a 14-game winner last year. "I just didn't necessarily agree with the number we've reached."

--OF Skip Schumaker is seizing control of the leadoff spot, having raised his average to .417 after a week and a half of exhibition games.

--RHP Joel Pineiro, who missed his scheduled start March 2 with a stiff right shoulder, tossed three effective innings Friday. He gave up one run to the Dodgers.

BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Runs the Cardinals staff gave up in back-to-back exhibition losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Heck, last year matters. It had better count for something." -- Manager Tony La Russa on the .333 average compiled in 2007 by OF Skip Schumaker in part-time duty.



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