Pujols to DL; Edmonds steps in

Pujols to DL; Edmonds steps in

ST. LOUIS -- On the day they placed Albert Pujols on the 15-day disabled list, the Cardinals found his replacement in an unexpected place. Jim Edmonds, previously thought to be headed to the DL himself, got his first start in more than a week, playing first base.

Pujols was shelved due to a strained right oblique muscle. The club remains hesitant to make an estimate as to how long the National League MVP will be out, but it's clearly a matter of weeks rather than days. This is the first time Pujols has been on the disabled list in his 5 1/2-year Major League career.

"He came in and he was very sore, which they expected from that type of injury, from a ribcage injury," said head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg. "His pain had increased and was diffused over a considerable area. We'll take appropriate measures."

Chris Duncan was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take Pujols' roster spot, but the striking thing in Sunday's lineup was Edmonds' presence.

The eight-time Gold Glove center fielder had been sidelined for a week due to a strained abdominal wall. His last appearance in a game was as a pinch-hitter on May 28, and his last start was May 26. It was Edmonds' 38th career start at first base and his first since June 9, 2004.

"The first baseman got hurt, and we were short some guys," Edmonds said. "So I figured, if I could go out there and play for a couple days and get a little better as I'm playing, it would be better for us."

The club had pondered placing Edmonds on the disabled list as he recuperates from his injury, but he has been cleared to play at first base. His injury bothers him most when he runs, and playing the infield will minimize the amount of running he has to do.

"Jimmy's feeling a little better," Weinberg said. "He's improved. He went and took some grounders today, and he felt comfortable about what he's doing. So he felt he was ready to go."

All parties involved assert that playing adds little, if any, risk on Edmonds' part.

"He is going to have some pain and he may get more pain from playing, and if it gets too painful, then he doesn't play," said manager Tony La Russa. "But the injury will not be aggravated. He is not going to make whatever he has worse by playing."

Said Edmonds: "Am I worried about it? No. Have I thought about it? A little bit, but I feel like I can control myself enough with being at first and controlling my running around the bases that I can kind of limit what the effort is. Hopefully, I won't put myself at risk."

Pujols is batting .308/.442/.751 (batting average/on-base/slugging) and leads the Major Leagues with 25 home runs, 65 RBIs and 52 runs scored. Duncan, 25, has a .272/.352/.456 line in 42 games for Memphis. He was up with the Major League club briefly earlier this year and went 1-for-5 with a home run.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.