Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Cards' Pujols improving, but not yet playing

The Associated Press

CHICAGO - Albert Pujols is making "good improvement" with his sore left hamstring, but the St. Louis Cardinals said it's still too early to say when their star slugger will return.

Pujols will begin resistance exercises, then can progress to playing catch and hitting off the tee, trainer Barry Weinberg said before Tuesday's game with the Chicago Cubs.

"It's like you walk before you run," Weinberg said. "If those aren't affecting him, then he'll advance to batting practice."

Pujols, a first baseman, missed his first game of the season Monday after injuring his hamstring while running the bases Sunday. He is unlikely to start today or Thursday against the Cubs, but it's possible he could pinch-hit if he feels better.

This weekend would seem to be a more likely date for his return. The Cardinals go to Texas for an interleague series, and Pujols could be their designated hitter.

RED SOX: Nomar Garciaparra will play at least one more minor-league game before Boston decides when he can make his 2004 debut. The All-Star shortstop was scheduled to play for Triple-A Pawtucket Tuesday night.

"It could be tomorrow, it could be next week," manager Terry Francona said of Garciaparra's return.

The Red Sox said Garciaparra's right Achilles' tendon would be examined today before the team decides if he can play.

YANKEES: Shortstop Derek Jeter was out of the lineup for the third game in a row Tuesday because of a strained groin. Manager Joe Torre said he kept Jeter on the bench as a precaution. "I'm 95 percent sure he'll play (today)," Torre said through a spokesman.

PHILLIES: Starter Randy Wolf was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of tendinitis in his left elbow, and closer Billy Wagner was activated. Wagner, who topped 97 mph three times Sunday in a rehabilitation appearance for Double-A Reading, went on the disabled list May 14 because of a strained left groin.

BLUE JAYS: Toronto put slugger Carlos Delgado on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 30, because of a strained right rib cage.

The Blue Jays also placed left-hander Valerio De Los Santos, who has a sore shoulder, on the 15-day DL and activated shortstop Chris Woodward (strained hamstring), outfielder Frank Catalanotto (strained groin) and right-hander Justin Speier (sore shoulder) from the 15-day DL.

ROYALS: Ken Harvey, the major leagues' leading hitter, was sore from his right shoulder to his right ankle but expected to miss only one game after his collision with teammate Jason Grimsley. Harvey was playing first base Sunday against Boston when he and Grimsley ran into each other while going after a slow roller.

"A little banged up, but I feel OK," said Harvey, whose .375 average led both leagues going into Tuesday.

Grimsley, a middle reliever, had a sore arm and a sore jaw but also pronounced himself ready to go.

DODGERS: Right-hander Hideo Nomo was activated from the 15-day disabled list and righty Brian Falkenborg was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Nomo, scheduled to start Tuesday against Toronto, was sidelined by a torn nail on his right index finger.

INDIANS: Right-hander Joe Dawley, who has a strained elbow, was put on the 15-day disabled list and right-hander Kazuhito Tadano was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

RANGERS: Texas signed right-hander Rick Helling to a minor-league contract.

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