Baseball

Pujols gets over sore back

Albert Pujols, who returned to action after taking a week to rest a sore back, hit two hard singles in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-5 victory against the Houston Astros on Saturday in Jupiter, Fla.

Pujols said his back did not bother him when he swung and it did not get tight.

“That’s the two things I was looking at and I didn’t feel any of that,” he said.

Pujols lined the first pitch he saw into deep center. The ball was hit so hard he was held to a single. His second single was a hard line drive to left field.

“Five days off, two swings like that,” manager Tony La Russa said. “You can’t do that unless you’re a great player.”

After playing in two games and going hitless in five at bats, Pujols awoke last Sunday with a sore back. Since, he has been undergoing treatment, including chiropractic adjustments.

“It was a little rough missing five days without being able to do any running,” Pujols said.

The National League MVP was encouraged by his first two hits, which came on a pitch down and away and an inside slider, and a high fastball that he fouled back before walking in his third at bat.

Berkman has surgery

Lance Berkman is expected to miss two to four weeks after having left knee surgery to remove loose cartilage.

Astros manager Brad Mills said the surgery showed there was no damage to the meniscus or ligaments. The timetable for Berkman’s recovery puts him in jeopardy of missing opening day.

DL likely for Webb

Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch says it’s becoming “very evident” Brandon Webb likely will begin the season on the disabled list.

The right-hander had shoulder surgery in August and could throw in the bullpen this week. Webb last threw in the bullpen on March 4, saying he felt “stagnant.”

Short hops

Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is day-to-day with a strained left groin. … The Texas claimed infielder Hernan Iribarren on waivers from Milwaukee. … Center fielder Denard Span and the Minnesota Twins agreed to a $16.5 million, five-year contract, a deal that includes a $9 million team option for 2015. … Yankees co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner told The Associated Press that “the plan” is for owner George Steinbrenner to attend opening day in New York on April 13. … Chicago White Sox outfielder Jared Mitchell is going to have surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left ankle. … Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka had his first scheduled throwing session of spring training postponed because of a stiff neck. … Cleveland Indians reliever Kerry Wood missed his scheduled appearance against the Texas Rangers with arm soreness. … Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee will miss a few games with a left foot injury he says isn’t serious.

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