On a back field in Tempe — the same back fields where Ken Griffey Jr. launched his professional career when the M’s trained in this facility prior to their move to Peoria — Albert Pujols spent his first day in an Angels uniform on Monday.
It was in an unofficial capacity, because Angels position players don’t report for another week. But Pujols chose to show up early, something he says he’s done throughout his career, and underwent a short workout in the morning. He fielded some ground balls, and then took some BP from Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. You can see Pujols taking swings in the video above. The other player shown in the background is none other than Kendrys Morales, who hasn’t played since breaking his ankle celebrating a game-winning grand slam against the Mariners in May of 2010. The Angels hope Morales will be ready for the start of the season and able to hit behind Pujols in the cleanup spot.
Pujols later held a press conference at the hotel overlooking Tempe Diablo Stadium, in which he appeared relaxed and eager to start this new phase of his career, less than four months after winning a World Series with the Cardinals. He signed a $10-year, $240-milloin contract with the Angels in December.
“I had a great time in the city of St. Louis,” Pujols said. “You don’t just flip that page and say move on. I had some great moments, was able to accomplish winning two World Series, and that’s something that I want to bring to Anaheim and to this ball club — have, hopefully, better years than I had in St. Louis and, hopefully, more championships.”
Pujols pointed out that he actually has a 20-year commitment to the Angels, when you include the 10-year personal services contract that kicks in when he retires. So the Mariners are going to have to deal with him, one way or another, for a long, long time.
He said he has received numerous texts and messages from Cardinals teammates and staff, wishing him well.
“They say, hopefully we’ll see you in the World Series, that would be awesome. Some of the coaches, I won’t name names, they’re pretty excited, telling me I’m going to like it, like the league, and to do your best and don’t change the way you play the game. There’s no pressure. It’s great when you have guys like that that have your back. I’ve been blessed to have great teammates. It wasn’t just the player I was on the field, it was who I was off the field. That’s more important.
“I still have a home in St. Louis, but I’m committed to this organization for the next 20 years. It wasn’t just a 10-year deal. It was a 20-year commitment to this organization, to the city of Anaheim, to reach people in the community and play in the city. I’ll try do that the best I can, like I’ve done in St. Louis.”
I’ll have more on Pujols’ first day in camp in tomorrow’s Seattle Times.