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Next Up: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals haven't had an easy week, or an easy year.

First, Juan Encarnacion suffered an extremely nasty injury - he fractured his eye socket after being struck by a foul ball while waiting in the on-deck circle. It may cost him not only his season, but perhaps even his career:

"This is a serious hit, career-threatening," Manager Tony La Russa said yesterday. "The other ones are not to be diminished, like [Chris] Carpenter's arm, but they're not in the same category. It's like Josh [Hancock]."

It seems a little insensitive to compare an injury - even if serious - to a death. Encarnacion was conscious and even telling jokes in the hospital, according to Albert Pujols. It's nothing like what happened to Hancock. You can't blame LaRussa for being shocked, though, and it's been a tough season for the Cardinals, who've lost Hancock, placed Scott Spiezio on the restricted list while he dealt with substance abuse problems, lost Carpenter for the season, and watched as LaRussa himself was caught driving under the influence in March. (Literally, they watched - like many baseball people who commit DUIs, LaRussa wasn't punished by his team.)

On top of all that, they recently learned that Scott Rolen will miss the rest of the season, too.

We'll face a depleted Cardinals team when their series with the Bucs starts in St. Louis tomorrow. However, Mark Mulder may well make his first start of the season on Wednesday. Also, Mike Maroth should return from an elbow-related DL stint to start on Thursday.

Best of luck to Encarnacion - let's hope he has the easiest possible path to recovery.