Once upon a time, Albert Pujols was a pretty good third baseman. That was before he shredded his elbow and the St. Louis Cardinals traded for Scott Rolen, which happened almost nine years ago, and since then he hasn't played a single inning at third base, though he spent three at second base in 2008. But Sunday, against the Atlanta Braves, Tony La Russa managed to use all his infielders in the course of pinch-hitting and defensive-replacing, and in came Albert Pujols at third base, replaced at first by Mark Hamilton.â†µ
Of course, it's impossible to hide a situation like that—Chipper Jones grounded the ball right to Pujols in the first at-bat of the inning, and Pujols sidearmed a throw to Hamilton for the out.
Pujols is somewhat larger and more dinged-up than he was in 2001, but I don't think anybody doubts his ability to stand at third base at this point in his career. I also don't think anybody has managed to avoid being terrified of every throw Pujols makes; his elbow has hung on by a thread since sometime in 2004, when he was mercifully moved to first base and told he would never, ever, have to do anything but hit the ball like nobody else in baseball and play a Gold Glove first.â†µ