Update (July 3, 2011): The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Pujols’ recovery is going quicker than expected. According to the story, the fracture line that extends toward the distal aspect of the radius (toward the wrist) is “diminshed.” If this source is accurate, the CT scan shows that the fracture is healing appropriately. Pujols will continue to undergo CT scans so that team doctors can monitor his progress.

St. Louis Cardinals star first baseman Albert Pujols will miss four to six weeks with a fractured radius, according to team general manager John Mozeliak. The injury occurred in Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Pujols tried to tag Royals’ runner Wilson Betemit with his gloved left hand. He was off balance after the throw from the second baseman. Betemit collided with Pujols’ forearm, and the first baseman was in obvious pain immediately. Team athletic trainer Greg Hauck helped Pujols off the field. He was placed in a splint. He reportedly underwent an MRI and CT scan Monday. Team officials confirmed that he had a nondisplaced fracture of his radius.

The radius is one of the two long bones of the forearm, seen as the left of the two bones in this image.
The radius is one of the long bones in the forearm. It extends from the elbow to the wrist and is involved in forearm rotation. It is difficult to determine from media reports if Pujols broke the bone in the middle of the forearm or at the wrist. If it is nondisplaced, he did not have the bone put back in place, and he likely will not need surgery to hold the bone in place.

If this is truly a nondisplaced fracture of just the radius, especially if it is in the middle of the forearm, the fracture should heal uneventfully in about six weeks. He likely will be in a splint for about half of that time, and the splint might incorporate his elbow and wrist. As the fracture shows good signs of healing and maintains good alignment, the doctors will likely allow him to work on elbow and wrist range of motion and early strengthening. As he progresses, he will start baseball activities but move through them slowly enough to protect the healing bone. When the fracture has healed, as determined by follow up x-rays, then full baseball activities will be started. He might wear a removable splint to protect the bone with some activities, such as batting.

The bone should heal with no long-term consequences. That fact did not stop baseball fans and media members from speculating on how this injury will affect his contract negotiations. Pujols, who is considered by many to be the best player in the game right now, is in the final year of his contract. How quickly he regains his All-Star form remains to be seen, but it will be watched closely throughout baseball. Fortunately for Cardinals fans and baseball lovers alike, this injury will be a setback for Pujols, but it should not delay his potential Hall of Fame career for too long.