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Get this: Albert Pujols is starting at third base tonight

May 16, 2011, 5:50 PM EDT

Albert Pujols

Here’s a good way to tell that Tony La Russa is back in the saddle: following a bad weekend, the Tinker-a-tron has been set to “ludicrous” and Albert Pujols is starting at third base.

Now, of course Pujols came up as a third baseman for the Cardinals — and he did get one sub-in there late in a game against the Braves a couple of weeks ago — but he hasn’t actually started a game at third base since 2002.  He has, however, been taking infield practice at third a lot recently, so the move is not a total shocker, even if it is still as unorthodox as all get-out.

As for the rest of the lineup weirdness, Derrick Goold reports that Nick Punto will be at 2B, Lance Berkman will be at first and that Allen Craig is in right field.

No word on whether this was inspired by Tony La Russa’s fantasy baseball needs.

  1. bigxrob - May 16, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    And from the Phillies side…Wilson Valdez will be hitting into double plays while playing 2b and batting 2nd with Ibanez will be batting third.
    Should be a riveting night in St. Louis.

  2. skerney - May 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Ludicrous speed, GOOOOO!

    • pestiesti - May 16, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      They’ve gone to plaid!

  3. bigharold - May 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    “No word on whether this was inspired by Tony La Russa’s fantasy baseball needs.”

    He wants to let the Yankees get a good look at him at 3B so tey can justify the 300 Mil contract offer in the off season.

    And, he’ll look good in Yankee Pinstripes too!

    • nixonotis - May 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM

      Haha, you’re going to get everyone all worked up!

      • bigharold - May 16, 2011 at 9:06 PM

        Clearly, … but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a point.

  4. hermitfool - May 16, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Berkman had obvious mobility issues in right field yesterday.

    As for Nick Punto, he quite possibly set a new standard for weinie sticks by breaking a bat during a bunt attempt.

  5. spudchukar - May 16, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    I am all in on this. With Freese, out until the all-star game at least, and with no viable right-handed hitting option of any measurable worth, the occasional start for Albert at 3B is a gamble worth taking, particularly with runs tough to come by vs. Lee. According to the Spring Training reports, Pujols’ cranky elbow is at full strength, painless, and fully recovered. The gamble of course is the sinker-ball specialist Westbrook may induce a number of grounders Pujols’ way. However, the Pheelies will counter with a number of left-handed bats, although maybe not as many as usual with Utley and Victorino on the shelf.

    • umrguy42 - May 17, 2011 at 1:19 PM

      Hmm. Maybe the fact that the elbow is painless is what’s behind AP’s uncharacteristic lack of production. I dunno, seriously – what if, he got used to playing with the pain by doing things a certain way – and now, without it, it’s totally different?

  6. riverace19 - May 16, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    If Berkman can throw a glove on and go out to RF, Albert can play SS. I expect him to do just fine in the field and a little change of defensive scenery might just get his bat revved up to Albert-style production.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 16, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Great Athlete At First Base always seemed like a bit of an oxymoron to me. Seems like if someone was truly a great athlete they could have stuck at a more valuable position. Kudos to Albert for his willingness to make the team better.

    (Rumor has it Pujols suggested the move to TLR. My guess is that Pujols owns himself and Wright in his fantasy league, so this is a reaction to the broken back thing…)

    • Kevin S. - May 16, 2011 at 9:38 PM

      You know Pujols was moved from third because the Cards acquired an all-time great defensive third baseman, right?

      • aaronmoreno - May 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

        You know he also has bad feet and a bad shoulder and hasn’t played third in years, right?

      • paperlions - May 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

        No, he had a partially torn elbow ligament for years that only affected his throwing. He has had no issues with his feet or shoulder.

  8. nixonotis - May 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    I am pretty excited this is a nationally televised game, I’ll never be more pumped to see a grounder to third.

  9. cintiphil - May 16, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    This is one of the reasons I like the way LaRussa plays. Nothing is outside of his limits. He makes the game interesting, if he wins or loses. I don’t think the birds have a chance this year, and are not to be contenders, however that doesn’t stop TLR from trying everything to win just one more game. A true competitor.

  10. xmatt0926x - May 16, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    Uhh Craig, look at the Phillies lineup tonight and it is just as absurd with Manuel “tweaking” it. They’ve actually scored a run already which may be a miracle. I’m currently consulting the Vatican for verification. Cliff Lee may well be a better hitter than everyone in the lineup except Rollins and Howard. I’m just joking..(no I’m not)

  11. kmgannon - May 16, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Normally, I’m all for ripping TLR because I think he does things just to show how “innovative” he is–“smartest guy in the room” stuff. But this actually makes some sense, because Berkman in RF is a disaster waiting to happen. His defensive numbers look good because he has no range–he’ll catch what’s hit right at him, so no errors. But anything beyond arm’s reach, and he has to plod over to get it, while a conga line forms around the basepaths. Yet, his bat is clearly crucial. Since Pujols has a little 3B experience, why not put Lance at 1B? Berkman in RF is way more of a defensive liability than El Hombre at 3B.
    So…I guess I agree with LaRussa’s move.
    /shudders
    //goes back to watching Indians rout Royals
    ///Go Tribe.

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