Albert Pujols is confident he'll be ready to play when the Los Angeles Angels open the regular season on April 1 in Cincinnati against the Reds, while the agent for teammate Mike Trout is angry that last season's American League Rookie of the Year had his contract renewed by the team rather than be given a big raise..
Pujuols told the Los Angeles Times that he continues to make progress from knee surgery last October, adding that he does not need to. He has been taking batting practice, fielding grounders and running on a treadmill for more than two weeks since reporting to Tempe, Ariz.
He has not run bases yet and is reportedly another two weeks away from appearing in a spring training game.
"If the season started tomorrow, I'd be playing, but there's no reason to push it," he said. "We're being cautious because we have time."
But Pujols, 33, said he does not need to play in a spring game to be ready for the regular season.
"As long as my body feels good, I'm ready to go," he said. "I've got 8,000 at-bats in the big leagues," Pujols said. "I think I've got plenty."
Manager Mike Scioscia laughed off Pujols comments, saying he would probably still need a few spring at-bats.
"He's probably being a little tongue-in-cheek, but he's not going to need the 40 to 50 to 60 at-bats some guys need," Scioscia said. "He needs to see some velocity to try to get locked and in and get his balance. ... But as long as he's playing by the middle of March, there's no doubt he'll be ready."
As for Trout, his agent is upset that the Angels renewed Trout's contract for $510,000, just $20,000 above the major league minimum salary.
"During the process, on behalf of Mike, I asked only that the Angels compensate Mike fairly for his historic 2012 season, given his service time," Trout's agent, Craig Landis, said in a statement. "In my opinion, this contract falls well short of a 'fair' contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process. Nonetheless, the renewal of Mike's contract will put an end (to) this discussion."
Trout has a year and 70 days of major league service and will be eligible for arbitration after the 2014 season and for free agency after the 2017 World Series.
Teams can renew the contracts of unsigned players on their 40-man rosters until March 11.
"Mike, himself, does not wish to comment on this matter," Landis said. "As when he learned he would not be the team's primary center fielder for the upcoming season, Mike will put the disappointment behind him and focus on helping the Angels reach their goal of winning the 2013 World Series."
Trout told the Los Angeles Times earlier in the week that he would not focus on the contract.
"You could easily put yourself in a bad mood about it, but that's not me," he said. "I like to play baseball. I'm going to try to win a World Series for the team and not worry about off-the-field things."
Trout made $482,500 last year and finished second in the AL MVP race to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Trout batted .326 with 30 home runs and 83 RBI. He led the league with 129 runs and 49 steals.
In MLB injury news:
---San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum was scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Chicago Cubs in Scottsdale, Ariz., because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. It is considered minor, and he has dealt with blisters in past springs. The blister affects his ability to throw sliders and changeups. He had similar issues when he won the National Cy Young Award in 2009.
---Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo was scratched from his Sunday start against the Chicago Cubs because of a minor groin strain, MLB.com reported. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the injury could affect Gallardo's availability for the World Baseball Classic. Gallardo sustained the injury during his start against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. Also, left fielder Ryan Braun fouled a pitch off his left knee Thursday and is questionable to play Saturday. It should not affect his WBC status with Team USA.
---New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told CBS Sports the problem with left-handed ace Johan Santana is he reported to training camp not in shape to pitch. Santana wanted to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but the team denied him permission because he was not ready to pitch. Santana ended last season on the disabled list as he struggled after throwing a no-hitter on June 1. He had ankle and back soreness last year as he came back from shoulder surgery. He was expected to be ready coming into training camp in February but was shut down two weeks ago after two bullpen sessions. The Mets say Santana has left shoulder fatigue and is trying to build his arm strength back.
In international baseball news:
---Former New York Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang allowed no runs over six innings as host Taiwan defeated Australia 4-1 in the World Baseball Classic opener on Saturday. Wang allowed just four hits and was helped defensively by three double plays.
---Washington Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina's two RBI and solid pitching from the Netherlands led to a 5-0 shutout over South Korea in a World Baseball Classic game in Taiwan on Saturday. Pitchers Diegomar Markwell and Orlando Yntema combined for seven strong innings, allowing just four hits. The Netherlands faces Taiwan on Sunday.
---Host Japan rallied in the eighth inning to beat Brazil 5-3 Saturday in a World Baseball Classic game. Japan, which has won the two previous WBC tournaments, scored three times in the eighth inning after trailing 3-2. Hirokazu Ibata tied the game with an RBI single to score Seiichi Uchikawa from second base. Japan took the lead when Ibata scored from third base on a fielder's choice. Nobuhiro Matsuda's RBI single plated Hisayoshi Chono to make it 5-3. Reliever Tadashi Settsu picked up the win.