ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will be out an estimated six weeks with a fractured left wrist, leaving baseball without a three-time MVP in a devastating blow for a franchise hit hard by injuries this season.
The team announced the results of an MRI and CT scan Monday, one day after Pujols was injured during a home game against Kansas City. The team said Pujols has a non-displaced fracture of his left radius and that his arm is in a splint, and general manager John Mozeliak referred to the injury as a fractured wrist.
Mozeliak said he hoped to have Pujols back by the beginning of August.
Pujols is hitting .279 this year and was starting to heat up after a slow start. The team said his left shoulder was sore, but no structural damage was found.
Pujols was hurt on Sunday after Wilson Betemit hit a chopper up the middle off Cardinals starter Jamie Garcia.
Second baseman Pete Kozma backhanded the ball and made a jump-throw to first, pulling Pujols off the bag toward home. As the slugger tried for a tag, Betemit ran into his glove hand and Pujols went down to the ground in pain.
"He hit me on my wrist and my shoulder," Pujols said afterward. "He kind of jammed me back. It's the toughest play to make as a first baseman. It's a bang-bang play. I saw the replay a couple of times, but I didn't really want to look at it."
The 31-year-old Pujols is due to enter free agency this fall after rejecting a multiyear contract extension at the start of spring training. He will be placed on the 15-day disabled list for only the third time in his career.
Betemit said there was no way to avoid the collision.
"I was running hard and the ball arrived at the same time I got to the base," Betemit said. "I couldn't do anything about it. He hit me on my left arm, that's why he dropped the ball. I hit him and then I saw him on the ground. That's part of the game. I couldn't do anything about it."
St. Louis was tied for first place in the NL Central despite the latest in a string of injuries. Pujols was hurt three days after cleanup hitter Matt Holliday returned from a quadriceps injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list, and Holliday also missed time following an appendectomy.
Third baseman David Freese, second baseman Skip Schumaker and pitcher Kyle McClellan also have missed significant time for a franchise that early in spring training lost 20-game winner Adam Wainwright for the season.
Lance Berkman took over at first base after the injury and could serve as the long-term fill-in at the position. He began the year as a full-time outfielder for the first time since 2004.