We can understand why Albert Pujols would be eager to return from a broken bone -- and why the Cardinals would want to have the all-world slugger back in their lineup.

 

That said, we were fairly stunned to learn that Pujols is available to play tonight -- the first day he is eligible to come off the DL from an injury that was supposed to shelve him for up to six weeks. Does it really make sense?

*First off, the Cardinals are doing OK without Pujols. They're holding serve in a decent division, still in first place over the sliding Brewers.

*Second, the All-Star break is less than a week away. Why not give Pujols this week off, then the break, then bring him back late next week when we're closer to four weeks from the injury -- slightly accelerated but still near the 4-6 week initial timetable.

*Third, Pujols' return surely adds another layer of skepticism for those who have speculated -- and it's all speculation, let's be clear -- he has benefited from more than natural ability to hit home runs. Two weeks to come back from a broken wrist? Maybe he's just a naturally fast healer. It's hardly out of the question. But some things that make you stronger also help you heal faster. Fair or not, Pujols will likely hear more whispers now.

Maybe we're being ridiculous (and conditioned to expect players to be out longer than expected, rather than coming back sooner). If a star is ready to play, why hold him back? It just seems like this time, caution might have been the better idea.