St. Louis — If it appears that Albert Pujols jogs to first base on occasion, there's a good reason.
The St. Louis Cardinals' star has been nursing a right hamstring injury for several weeks and is under orders to run under control. Manager Tony La Russa said the injury also has affected Pujols' ability to drive the ball.
"He doesn't have that big power push," La Russa said. "He's not going to be generating as much power, but he can still generate base hits. Just got to be careful running."
Pujols got a day off Monday night when Game 5 of the NL championship series was rained out.
The New York Mets and Cardinals are tied at two games each in the best-of-seven series and will try again tonight at Busch Stadium.
Pujols, the reigning NL MVP and one of the favorites to win it again, is 4-for-14 in the NLCS with one double and no RBIs. He has been bothered by hamstring problems in the past, but La Russa said this injury was "a little more serious" and one that will improve only with rest.
That means Pujols will play impaired until the season is over.
"Mostly I mentioned it so when people watch him running I don't have to answer questions later on about him jogging," La Russa said. "You probably noticed, he's laboring when he runs."
La Russa said when Pujols scored from first base on Scott Spiezio's triple in the first inning of Game 3, "I'm holding my breath."
Pujols batted .331 this season and finished second with 49 homers and 137 RBIs. In the first round of the playoffs, he went 5-for-15 with a home run and three RBIs during the four-game victory over San Diego.
In the NLCS, Pujols has gotten more attention for critical comments about Mets pitcher Tom Glavine - "he wasn't good, he wasn't good at all," the slugger said after Glavine won the opener 2-0 - and an uncooperative manner with the media.
Pujols left Busch Stadium without talking to reporters Monday.
La Russa said the hamstring bothered Pujols in the division series, too. Overall, he's batting .310 in the postseason with one homer, two doubles and three RBIs in 29 at-bats.