Albert Pujols, the veteran slugger, looks slim and trim and that could mean he will be using his first basemen’s glove more often this season.
The 38-year old looks to reverse the downward trend in his career, in part through contributing more on the field now that nagging injuries have been healed. The Los Angeles Angels hope Pujols can share the role of designated hitter with rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani.
Pujols told reporters that he has lost between 13 and 15 pounds, and looks in much better shape, although he would not give his weight as that was between he and the trainers he has. Unlike the last two winters, when he could do very little due to foot surgeries, this past offseason Pujols worked out.
On Friday the veteran and former MVP said it was good to finally have another normal offseason in which he did not need to have physical therapy, but just go to the gym and prepare for spring training. He added that he definitely is in much better shape.
Pujols has four seasons remaining on his 10-year contract the Angels offered him as a way to entice him away from the St. Louis Cardinals when he was a free agent. This season he will earn $27 million.
Last season, the veteran was the team’s designated hitter during 142 games, while playing first base in just six games. During the 2016 season, he was DH for 123 games and played first in 28 games. He said that playing more games at first would be good for him, but that was not the motivating factor for his busy offseason. He said the main thing was being healthy and wanting to return to his workouts.
During the offseason, he focused on agility and flexibility more than just on lifting large amounts of weight.
Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia did not pinpoint a number of games he believes that Pujols would play at first. However, Scioscia did say that Pujols could play enough first base to give the team more versatility in certain lineups. The manager added that he knows Pujols loves to play first and is terrific at the position.
When reporters brought up his 2017 season, Pujols, an All-Star on 10 occasions, appeared upset. He batted just .241 but did hit 23 home runs and knock in 101 runs. His OPS was .672 which was the worst of his career.
Pujols said his focus was on this year, not last season and that the reporters only focused on his batting average of a season ago and nothing else.