Tony La Russa returned to the St. Louis Cardinals last night after missing a six-game road trip while battling shingles. The skipper made some noise in his comeback by shifting his best player from his position, as he moved Albert Pujols from first to third base.
A few hours before the game, La Russa revised his lineup to improve the team’s defense. He moved Pujols to third, shifted Lance Berkman from right field to first base and sent Allen Craig from second base to the outfield. The move also allowed Nick Punto to start at second base, his best position.
It was Pujols’ first time at third base since Sept. 23, 2002. Pujols started 89 games at third from 2001-02, but last night’s 3-1 win over the Phillies was his first start at a position other than first base or designated hitter since 2004. The burly slugger did bobble a potential double play ball in the second inning that led to a run for the Phillies, but other than that he looked relatively comfortable at the position.
There’s no word on how long the switch will last for Pujols. Regular third baseman David Freese is on the disabled list with a broken hand and is expected to be out at least 10 more weeks. So this could be a regular thing for Pujols unless the Cardinals add a competent third baseman.