After a truncated 2013 season, in which a nagging case of plantar fascia left him sidelined, Albert Pujols is speaking out about the toll his body has taken after 13 spellbinding seasons in the Majors.
Pujols recorded some disappointing numbers last season, .258 batting average, 17 home runs and 64 RBIs, all of which were career lows. In just 99 games for the Angels in 2013 Pujols enter 2014 with a new mindset to get him back to his former glory.
Moving to the American League has afforded the veteran slugger the luxury to switch between First base and DH, or to sit altogether–depending on how his body feels. These options will give Pujols time to rest when needed and time to heal any injuries. Pujols spoke candidly on the adjustment, via ESPN:
“I know I’ll be ready for Opening Day,” Pujols said. “I’ve been doing it for 14 years. I know not to try to do too much.”
“I think if there’s a day I need to DH, I’ll DH,” Pujols said. “If I need a day off, I’ll take a day off. I wish I’d have done that more earlier in my career, because the last couple of years I’m trying to be Superman and trying to play 162 games. It’s cost me the last couple of years.
“If I feel good, you’re going to see me out there every day. My job is to be in the lineup, to help this organization win. I’m going to do whatever it takes to do that, whether it’s at first base or as a DH or taking a day off here and there.”
When asked if he will use his 22-year-old teammate Mike Trout as motivation to stay on the field, Pujols scoffed;
“I don’t need to compare with anybody, buddy,” Pujols said. “Just look at my numbers. My job is to stay healthy and go out there to play. I don’t need anybody to motivate me to play this game.”
A healthy Pujols could be the key to getting the Angels out of their prolonged AL West slump. His resurgence, aided to what we know Trout does and a productive Josh Hamilton will make the difference for the Halos.