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01/17/05 11:01 PM ET

Pujols suffers setback in recovery

Cardinals slugger once again feeling pain in foot

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols' recovery from plantar fasciitis has hit an ill-timed snag. Pujols told reporters on Monday that he has begun to feel pain in his left foot again, several weeks after undergoing a non-invasive treatment for the condition that bothered him for much of the 2004 season.

The superstar will not undergo surgery, because an operation would sideline him for an extended period of time. He does not expect to miss any playing time.

"It's still bothering me," Pujols said before taking the stage to sign autographs at the team's annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival. "I think I'm gonna do another treatment, hopefully, before I go down to Spring Training. It felt good for awhile, and then the last week or so it's been bothering me a little bit. It's something that I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go through again this year, because it's too late to do surgery."

Pujols received OssaTron treatment on his foot, a process similar to the lithotripsy high-frequency waves that are used to disintegrate kidney stones. For about six weeks, he felt significant improvement in his condition. After a follow-up examination with team physician Dr. George Paletta earlier this month, it was determined that a follow-up treatment would not be needed.

That may no longer be the case. Pujols did not definitely say that he will receive the treatment again, but he strongly indicated that it would be necessary. The first time he underwent the procedure, he was on his feet again very soon, so the slugger does not expect to miss any time in Spring Training.

"I went to see Dr. Paletta last week and it felt real good, and we decided not to do it," Pujols said. "And the last week or so it started feeling a little tender and sore. I'm pretty sure it's part of my workout and all the stuff that I'm doing, but it's not as bad as it was during the season. But at the same time I give it more rest now, and I'm not playing any baseball now. Hopefully, it gets better and we go on."

   Albert Pujols  /   1B
Born: 01/16/80
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Pujols played much of the 2004 season in intense pain, yet still managed to post his usual spectacular numbers. He hit .331 with a .415 on-base percentage and .657 slugging percentage, a career-high 46 homers, a career-high-tying 51 doubles, 133 runs and 123 RBIs.

"If I have to do it in the season and miss two or three games, I'm gonna do it," he said. "Because I'm not gonna go through the same thing that I went through last year. I don't think my body can handle that back-to-back years.

"Only God knows, and myself, how much pain I was playing in," Pujols said. "It's over. I went through it and that's something I don't want to experience again. I don't want to do that again because it was pretty painful."

Last year was the second consecutive season in which Pujols played for an extended period of time with a significant injury. In 2003, he played the season's last four months with a sprained ligament in his right (throwing) elbow. Pujols has never played fewer than 154 games in any of his four Major League seasons.

"I'll be ready to go for spring, no matter what," he said. "I can tell you that for sure. I'll be ready to go. I feel good. I've been hitting. I've been doing the same thing that I was doing the last three years, preparation and getting ready for Spring Training."

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