At some point Albert Pujols will bat tonight. He may start, or it might be during a pitching change in the 6th inning. If the St. Louis Baseball Gods have their say it will be a pinch-hit AB in the 9th with the game on the line. Regardless of the situation, more importantly regardless of the outcome, Pujols will receive a Hero’s welcome. From listening to local sports radio today it is as if El Hombre, The Mang, was returning home victorious from conquests afar. In similar fashion, local TV news outlets paint a picture of Pujols riding into Busch Stadium atop a magnificent steed with the head of a dragon in his saddle bag.
I am as happy as any Cardinal fan that Pujols’ return is coming much sooner than expected, but let’s pull back on the legendary-career-defining-moment talk. Pujols is a “Machine” yes, and has been very durable and tough throughout the first ten years of his career. The more likely explanation in this case however is that the injury is not as severe as originally diagnosed. Remember it took three X-Rays to find the fracture in the first place, so let’s not act as if his wrist was hanging on by the tendon. And strong as my feelings are as a fan, and blogger, about his early return and the positive message it sends to the team…especially the younger players. They are even stronger about the Cardinals and their medical staff’s mismanagement of player injuries.
If his injury is aggravated, wow…look out, this will be the biggest egg-in-the-face moment for a proud franchise. We have seen it too many times in recent years. See: Scott Rolen seeking out the opinion and aid from another team’s medical staff for his aching shoulder; Chris Carpenter pitching in only 1 game in 2007 while the fans were fed lines that he was coming back multiple times that season; or look no further than this year and the handling of Matt Holliday’s quad injury. Cases like these are too plentiful for my liking.
Pujols coming back early is not a sign of super human recovery but rather another example of misdiagnosing or misrepresenting an injury. This is not Willis Reed coming back for the Knicks, Ronnie Lott cutting off the end of his finger to come back into the game or Al Macinnis coming back in game 7 against the Canucks. In those games, in those situations, the players were still hurt and played through it and with it. If Pujols IS STILL hurt, then we have a new story to cover and one that I venture will cost people their jobs.
Pujols got hurt and got better. And now he is now going back to work. Nothing more…nothing less. Just like the rest of us who miss time at work. When we get better….we go back. So if you want to applaud Albert upon his return, please feel free. But understand you are applauding for nothing more than someone doing his job and getting paid A LOT to do it.
As usual these are just my thoughts…if you’re smart you’ll most likely agree. If not keep on reading and you’ll get up to speed.
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