JUPITER, Fla. -- Give St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols points for honesty.
Was he concerned that manager Tony La Russa might not return for 2008 last October?
"I was worried about my injury," Pujols told me Wednesday morning. "I wasn't worried about him coming back."
That doesn't mean Pujols didn't want La Russa back.
"When we re-signed him, I was really excited for him because of our relationship and what kind of manager he is," Pujols said.
As for the injury Pujols was concerned with, it's a chronically strained ligament in his right elbow. It hurt most of last season, and though offseason surgery was an option, he chose to go the rehabilitation route this winter than to go under the knife.
The elbow caused a stir when he first reported earlier this week, especially when La Russa said the Cardinals will have to monitor it and when Pujols said "If it blows out, it's going to blow out. You can't control that."
But during our conversation Wednesday, he said: "I think people made my elbow worse than it really is. I just laugh. They think they know. They don't know. Only I know."
La Russa reiterated on Wednesday that the Cardinals will watch him closely and noted that throwing isn't the only issue for Pujols.
"You can tweak it from swinging, which is what happened last year," La Russa said. "He's got an issue there."
An issue the Cardinals don't need to blow up on them.
Likes: Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire lowering the boom and telling veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez that those big diamond earrings don't fly with the Twins. Not while a guy is on the field, they don't. ... Let's see how Fidel Castro stepping down in Cuba affects the majors. You can bet they're watching closely in New York -- as are several individual clubs -- because a thaw in the Cold War almost certainly means more Cuban players in the majors (without having to defect!) and possibly major-league games in Cuba. How about the Dodgers' spring training camp in 1947, Jackie Robinson's rookie year? They held it in Havana, Cuba. Then they moved to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., the next season. ... Driving across the state on Route 80 and passing, in Clewiston, the Git-N-Split (fast food drive-thru joint) and the Git-N-Go (convenience store). Glad I didn't pass an outhouse with the "Git" theme to it. ... I'm telling you, sitting in a driftwood booth mere steps from the intracoastal waterway at Le Tub in Hollywood, Fla., the other night, munching on a cheeseburger (rated best burgers in the country a couple of years ago by GQ magazine), watching the boats go by and the sun setting, I was seconds from calling both my editor and my wife and telling them I was never to return. Then I woke up.
Dislikes: Rain in the forecast in the Fort Myers area the next couple of days.
Sunblock day? Sneaky sun today. Cloudy for much of the morning over in Jupiter, but the sun was out enough to warrant some sort of protection. We're cooking along in the upper-70s these days at most of the camps I've been to.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"Can't find a damn thing in this place
"Nothing's where I left it before
"Set of keys and a dusty suitcase
"Car wheels on a gravel road
-- Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road