MIAMI -- It is no secret that Albert Pujols is one of the most respected players in the game.
The 31-year-old has earned his place in the game after winning three Most Valuable Player Awards, making nine All-Star teams and winning countless other awards, and Marlins manager Jack McKeon believes he might be the best player in the game today.
"He's got to be one of the top guys," McKeon said. "You look at guys like [Barry] Bonds, who were really consistent, Pujols, who's over 10-12 years, has been a consistent .300/30-40 home run guy and the key guy on their ballclub. To me he's a Hall of Famer. He's got the credentials because of his consistency. He's not a one-year or two-year flash. He does it all the time."
Pujols enters this weekend's four-game series against the Marlins batting .275 on the season. While his average is below where he would like it to be, the slugging first baseman has still been a very dangerous hitter. His 24 home runs are fourth best in the NL and his 65 RBIs are 12th in the league.
While his numbers are already strong, there is reason to believe he will only improve on them this month. Pujols is a lifetime .342 hitter in August and he has hit more home runs in August than any other month in his career.
Schumaker prepared for utility role
MIAMI -- Skip Schumaker has started over 50 games for the Cardinals at second base this season, but the 31-year-old is prepared to play all over the field throughout the final two months of the season.
Schumaker knows the acquisition of Rafael Furcal means Ryan Theriot will see more time at second base. But the seven-year veteran knows his ability to play the outfield will help him become a valuable utility player for the Cardinals as they try to win the National League Central.
"It's always been my role," Schumaker said. "I came up as an outfielder and my first four years in the big leagues were out there. That's kind of really my home still because second is still a transition. Adding a veteran guy who has been to the playoffs nine times like Furcal is obviously huge. Theriot is obviously a very good Major League player so it creates some options for Tony, and he's very good at using those options."
Schumaker was in Thursday's starting lineup as the second baseman but he would not be surprised if he saw some time in the outfield over the four-game series against the Marlins.
"I feel like I can do the outfield thing maybe even better than the infield thing," Schumaker said. "It just creates versatility and more at-bats for you. It helps you stick around a little bit longer in the big leagues. I'm very comfortable in both spots now."
Whether it is in the infield or the outfield, Schumaker knows how important it is to help the Cardinals every time he gets an opportunity, and he is hoping to do that this weekend against the Marlins.
"Every game is important to us now," Schumaker said. "We're almost on a sprint to the finish line here. When you're in second place, every game counts. It doesn't matter if it's against Milwaukee, Florida or any other team, you have to win every single game. We've got a big challenge here because their starting pitching is very good but hopefully we can step it up and win the series."
Kyle Lohse recorded a no-decision when he last faced the Marlins on May 2. The right-hander allowed five runs over six innings in a 6-5 Cardinals loss. His last win against the Marlins came in 2007 as a member of the Phillies. ... The Cardinals will play their final four games at Sun Life Stadium this weekend. They are 41-27 on the road against the Marlins since 1993.
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.