A season that is slipping away for the St. Louis Cardinals has turned personal, with star slugger Albert Pujols criticizing young outfielder Colby Rasmus.

Rasmus has admitted he wasn't always happy while playing for the Cardinals as a rookie last year and this season. The 24-year-old center fielder is denying reports, however, that he asked in July to be traded.

Pujols says Rasmus, whose 19 homers are third on the team behind Pujols and Matt Holliday, needs to spend more time in the majors before he starts complaining. The three-time NL MVP said Sunday that if Rasmus wants to play somewhere else, the Cardinals should accommodate him.

"It's a privilege to play in this organization, just behind the Yankees with 10 World Series (titles) and be able to be in the postseason almost every year," Pujols said. "I have nothing negative to say about this organization.

"For a young kid to come up and say that, that he wants to be somewhere else, I don't know why."

Pujols pointed out that he, too, was once a "young guy."

"You need to know the mistake you make and be accountable to that. I think for him to come up and ask for a trade and that you guys should know about it, I don't think that was pretty professional," Pujols told reporters.

The Cardinals trail NL Central-leading Cincinnati by seven games and dropped eight of 10 on their latest road trip. Even after taking two of three from the Reds this weekend, the defending division champions were long shots to make the postseason.

Rasmus hasn't always gotten along with manager Tony La Russa — over the years, Scott Rolen and some other St. Louis players didn't see eye-to-eye with him, either — and has appeared moody at times. Pujols said he didn't know whether Rasmus was happy.

"With Colby," Pujols said, "You never know."

After Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Reds, Rasmus said he loved playing for the Cardinals and had no beef with La Russa. Both Rasmus and general manager John Mozeliak denied that the outfielder had wanted out.

"Some things might have gotten misinterpreted," Rasmus said. "I haven't handled the pressure well some of the time and said some things that I shouldn't, but I love being here, love the fans. So moving forward I'm just trying to play hard and happy that we won today."

Mozeliak said neither Rasmus nor his agent requested a trade, but added he wasn't privy to any discussions between manager and player.

"Me and Mo are tight, we get along well," Rasmus said. "I never did that and I don't know where that's coming from. I just want to play baseball and have fun."

La Russa also said he had no problem with Rasmus. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the source of a rift was Rasmus' participation in a hitting camp last summer run by his father, who was his high school baseball coach and hasn't been shy about giving his son pointers.

"I think he's a real good source for him and I was not annoyed," La Russa said. "If you don't trust me or don't believe me, then you don't trust me and don't believe me, but I'm telling you I have no problem with Colby.

"I think if he hangs around here long enough, he'll appreciate what it means to be a Cardinal."

Earlier in the weekend, Rasmus told The Associated Press that his relationship with La Russa was "professional." He said there have been frustrations, but maintained he has no problem playing for the manager.

"We've had our times, but it's a tough game out there, a lot of pressure involved," Rasmus said. "Some things happen in the heat of the moment, but everything's fine.

"We've got a good relationship going on right now."

Rasmus was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick out of high school in 2005 and is the top prospect to rise through the system since Pujols in 2001. He said he hasn't always handled pressure well and last year in particular felt isolated.

"Being on the big stage and being the young guy on the team, not having many guys to go through, it makes it tough," Rasmus said. "But that's just part of it and you've got to grow up and deal with it."