Report: Albert Pujols recovering quickly

Cardinals slugger
Albert Pujols has shown "significant improvement" in recovering from a broken left wrist and will likely return much sooner than expected, after the All-Star break on July 15 if not sooner, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported.

A CT scan taken Friday revealed the fissure on the distal tip of Pujols' left radius to be diminished, the Post-Dispatch report said, citing sources familiar with the situation. Another exam was scheduled for Monday.

"He got the test and he's working," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said before Saturday night's game at Tampa Bay. "I'm just really pleased with a lot of good news on that front."

The three-time NL MVP, who was put on the 15-day disabled list June 20, was batting .279 -- 50 points lower than his career average -- when he was injured. But he had stepped it up after a slow start and was still among the league leaders in home runs with 17 and had 45 RBIs.

The Cardinals face the Reds at Cincinnati in their first game after the All-Star break.

Pujols, originally expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, was hurt taking an offline throw at first base when the Kansas City Royals' Wilson Betemit collided with him.

Pujols was able to return quickly from his two other stints on the DL. He was sidelined from June 4-21, 2006, with a strained right oblique and sat out June 11-25, 2008, with a left calf strain.

"His conditioning," La Russa said. "He really works hard at keeping himself in shape. He's just a very tough guy."

Pujols is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. He cut off negotiations on a long-term contract extension with the Cardinals at the start of spring training.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.