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In mid-October, Pujols had surgery for nerve irritation in his right elbow, an ailment that caused numbness, tingling in his ring finger and pinkie, a weak grip and pain inside his forearm. He hopes to resume weight training after Thanksgiving and is expected to be ready for spring training.
"I had some pain," he said. "The worst part was the last two months."
Pujols said there was still a slight chance he might need Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.
"I'm crossing my fingers," he said.
Howard was hitting under .200 toward the end of May. His slow starts have cost him -- this year, he was the first player since Cincinnati's Hank Sauer in 1948 to be left off the All-Star team despite leading his league in homers and RBIs at the break.
Howard's best month came in September, when he set a team record with 32 RBIs and helped the Phillies rally to the NL East title. He hit .251 overall.
Ramirez had 138 points. He hit .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs after the Dodgers got him from Boston on July 31, and led Los Angeles' push to the NL West title.
Sabathia got 121 points. He was 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA after Milwaukee acquired him from Cleveland on July 6, and helped the Brewers win the wild-card spot.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who won the NL MVP last season, did not receive a single vote this year.
Pujols earned a $200,000 bonus for winning the award. Ramirez got $75,000 and Braun got $50,000.
The AL MVP will be announced Tuesday. A close vote is anticipated, with Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau among the top contenders along with Boston's Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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