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Notes: Pujols has plantar fasciitis08/10/2004 8:25 PM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
MIAMI -- It's no secret that Albert Pujols has been playing in some pain for quite a while now. On Tuesday the Cardinals put a name to it.
Trainer Barry Weinberg said on Tuesday that Pujols is dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis, commonly known as "heel spurs," in his right foot.
Offseason surgery has not been ruled out, but for now Pujols will continue to play, and the training staff will do all it can to manage the condition.
"He's not going to rest," said Weinberg. "He's going to play, and we'll treat it and manage it, and that's all. It's manageable."
Plantar fasciitis is typically an extremely painful condition, and not an easy one to play through. Another slugging Cardinals first baseman, Mark McGwire, had two operations to treat it during his career.
"His heel has got us really worried," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's been playing with it for a long time now. It's one of those things where you worry it could get worse. We tell him to be careful with his running."
Last season, Pujols played for the final five months while recovering from a strain in his throwing elbow. However, he has never been on the disabled list, and has never played in fewer than 157 games in a season.
Good news for Sanders: Reggie Sanders was feeling optimistic when he arrived at the ballpark on Tuesday. Sanders, who was hit by a pitch on his left elbow on Sunday, was expected to miss at least the first two games in Miami, if not the entire series. However, he felt good enough to take some swings in batting practice, and it is conceivable that he could return to the lineup on Wednesday.
Sanders said he would have been surprised if he had been told two days ago that he would be swinging a bat so soon.
"Most definitely," he said. "I wouldn't have thought that at all. So I think my progress has been very, very good."
It was a rough week-plus for Sanders, who suffered a strained left intercostal muscle the weekend before last, in San Francisco.
Go down or go free: A rehabilitation assignment is no longer the bone of contention between the Cardinals and outfielder Ray Lankford, who has been on the disabled list for two and a half weeks. Lankford, who was bothered by a sore right wrist, has been medically cleared to play, but the Cards aren't ready to add him to the roster -- and, therefore, remove someone else. Instead they would like to send him directly to the minor leagues.
Lankford has options remaining, according to La Russa, but because he has more than five years of Major League service, he must accept the assignment.
"We've already made our decision," said La Russa. "Ray's the one who controls it now. He has options left, but he has to accept the option or take his free agency."
The Cardinals hope to hear a decision from Lankford before the end of this week.
New look: La Russa made out his first lineup card with all five of the team's core offensive stars available, and it looked about as expected. New arrival Larry Walker occupied the No. 2 spot, and 3-4-5 hitters Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds stayed in their usual spots. Edgar Renteria was bumped from second to sixth.
Walker provides a combination of power and on-base ability in the second spot, whereas Renteria returns to a part of the order that he prefers. Renteria relishes the chance to bat closer to the heart of the order, where he has more RBI chances, as opposed to the table-setting positions at the top of the lineup.
"Edgar is a winning player," said La Russa. "If you told him to hit first or eighth, he would do it. But if you asked him, I think he likes to drive in runs. And I think down there he probably has a little bit more of an opportunity to steal bases."
Baby 'Birds: Kevin Witt went 3-for-4 with his 24th home run, and Randy Flores pitched 7 1/3 solid innings (two runs, eight hits, four walks, seven strikeouts), but Triple-A Memphis lost, 5-4, to Tucson. ... Brad Cresse hit a pair of homers and Jeremy Cook didn't walk a batter in seven innings for Double-A Tennessee, which beat Carolina, 6-2. ... Rayner Laya went 3-for-4 in Class A Palm Beach's 5-4, 10-inning win over Daytona. ... Brandon Marcelli's three hits and three RBIs paced Class A Peoria to an 11-7 win over Burlington. ... Christopher Patrick's five hits went for naught in short-season New Jersey's 8-1 loss to Brooklyn. ... Juan Lucena was 3-for-5 in rookie-level Johnson City's 8-4 loss to Elizabethton.
The player of the day was Tennessee catcher Cresse, who had a double, a walk, three runs and four RBIs to go along with his pair of long balls. He's hitting .327 with a .558 slugging percentage for the Smokies this year.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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