Pujols, Ankiel sit out Game 1 vs. Nats

Pujols, Ankiel sit out Game 1 vs. Nats

WASHINGTON -- Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel were both out of the Cardinals' starting lineup again on Thursday, though the club at least considered Pujols available in an emergency.

Ankiel, still dealing with an infection in his right knee, stayed back at the team hotel rather than coming to Nationals Park for the St. Louis-Washington doubleheader. He will accompany the Cardinals on their trip to Houston following Thursday's games, and the club still hopes he will play sooner than later.

"He's flying with us tonight," said manager Tony La Russa. "If he needs the weekend [off], he gets the weekend."

Pujols, meanwhile, was trying to lobby to get a start on Thursday afternoon, but the Cardinals exercised caution with their franchise player. Pujols sustained a left calf strain on Tuesday night. La Russa said Pujols could pinch-hit if needed.

"He's politicking to get in [the lineup]," La Russa quipped.

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