ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Albert Pujols woke up from a nap last Monday in Arizona to find several hundred messages and missed calls on his phone.
While sleeping, the wife of Los Angeles Angels slugger Deidre posted a free Instagram post about her husband which has been widely interpreted to mean that Pujols has decided to retire after this season, his 21st in the majors. .
“Hey, this is the life we live on social media,” Pujols said on Saturday with a chuckle. “It’s sad that everyone had to run with it.”
The 41-year-old slugger was quick to reiterate what he’s been saying for months: He hasn’t decided if he’ll continue playing after his 10-year, $ 240 million contract with the Angels is struck this fall, and he won’t. make or announce a decision until the end of the season.
“I think our organization, my friends, the people who have followed my career for 21 years deserve better than me or her posting something on Instagram,” Pujols said in his first spring training interviews. “This thing was just over the top. My mind is not even there. My mind is to stay focused, healthy, and hopefully try to help this ball club win this year, and that’s it. If I feel at the end of the year that’s it, I’ll announce it (and) go home. But I’m not even there yet.
Fifth-best home hitter in major league history says he has more pressing concerns in his mind, primarily the pursuit of his first playoff win with the Angels. Not playing in October will never stop bitching over Pujols, who begins the new season with 662 home runs and 2,100 RBIs, the third-highest number in baseball history.
“I can’t even watch (the playoffs), because I’m so angry that we should have been there,” he said.
Pujols has at least one more chance to get the team success he needs alongside Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani. The 10-time All-Star is in the midst of five straight losing seasons and six straight non-playoff campaigns with the Angels, but there is cautious optimism around the big-budget franchise heading into manager Joe Maddon’s second season. in charge.
Even though Pujols is trying to play in 2022, he knows he is near the end of the disappointing second act of his career after 11 stellar seasons in St. Louis. He hit .328 with 445 homers while winning three NL MVP awards for the Cardinals, but was a .257 hitter with 217 homers in nine years at Anaheim.
Last season, Pujols beat .224 with a .665 OPS – the two worst marks of his two-decade career – while playing in just 39 of Los Angeles’ 60s. games.
This season also brings the distinct prospect of even less action for Pujols, who has remained injury-free and quite effective as a first-base defender for the past two years.
He’s sure to split the playing time early with Jared Walsh, who scored .337 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 22. games as a rookie last September, and with Ohtani as the Halos designated hitter.
Pujols says he’s okay with the role he’s getting in 2021 from Maddon, who praises the veteran hitter on his maturity and leadership.
“It will always be a meritocracy, and he understands,” Maddon said. “We had conversations. Of course he wants to play. Of course, when he’s not playing, he might not like it. It’s wired that way, and that’s how you want it to be. But he understands what’s going on. He accepts it well. Whatever role we give him, I know he will respond well to it.
NOTES: LHP Packy Naughton has a Grade 1 UCL strain in his throwing elbow, the Angels announced. They acquired Naughton by trading DE Brian …
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