Albert Pujols, wearing a new uniform for the first time in a decade, and a new number for the first time in two decades, sat smiling in front of a Zoom camera Monday for 17 minutes looking like a completely invigorated 41-year-old player.
There was no need to talk about his 10-year, $240 million contract. No one brought up the expectations that were never filled. The injuries along the way. Or even the postseason drought.
This day, wearing the uniform of the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, he looked like he fit right in, resurrecting memories of those great St. Louis Cardinals teams he left behind.
Pujols no longer is being asked to help carry a club, or even be an everyday player for that matter, but simply be a piece of a powerful, but injury-riddled team, trying to become the first National League team since the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine in 1975-76 to win back-to-back World Series.
There were three future Hall of Famers and the all-time hit king on those Reds teams, while the Dodgers now feature four former MVPs and three Cy Young winners.
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Pujols, of course, could have stayed with the Los Angeles Angels if he accepted the same bench role. He had no interest, the Angels said, and Pujols vented his frustration and ire with the team’s direction in a private meeting with Angels president John Carpino and GM Perry Minasian.
Yet, Pujols insisted Monday that he never demanded on being the every-day first baseman, saying it was strictly the Angels’ decision to designate him for assignment.
“My goal over the last two years was never to be an everyday first baseman,’’ Pujols said. “They made a business decision. No hard feelings. I understand that. …
"I’m just glad to get another opportunity.’’
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