Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols came off the 15-day DL yesterday and is in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Reds. Pujols suffered a bone fracture near his wrist on a play at first base on June 19th and wasn’t expected back until August.

It’s been a rough 2011 for the face of the Cardinals franchise as he failed to come to an agreement with the club on a long-term deal before the start of this, the final year of his current contract. Expected to break the bank, in St. Louis or elsewhere, Pujols got off to a very uncharacteristic slow start. Then inĀ  May there was controversy when Pujols was criticized for possibly sending a message to the club with a hug and a handshake near the batting cage in Chicago.

The June 19th injury came after three-time league MVP seemed to have found his stroke. In the month of June, Pujols was hitting .317/.419/.778 with 8 homers. Then he caught an errant throw in an awkward position and had his left wrist slammed into by Kansas City’s Wilson Betemit on what was literally a bang-bang play.