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Slumping Pujols shows frustration with Angels hitting coach

The SportsXchange

The tension and frustration first baseman Albert Pujols is feeling about the worst

extended hitting slump of his career appears to have spilled out this week.

It began innocently enough with what should have been an anecdote from Angels hitting

coach Mickey Hatcher. Hatcher told reporters Monday that the slumping Pujols had stood up

in the team's pre-series meeting for hitters and shared some reassuring words about how

things would turn around soon for him and the struggling offense.

When asked about those comments after Monday's game, Pujols reacted unhappily.

"Mickey should never tell you guys what we talk about in a meeting," Pujols said. "I

think that's something that's private. That needs to stay with the team. No disrespect to

Mickey, but this is our ballclub. This is stuff that needs to be private, and that's

something that I'm going to tell him. He should never talk to the media about the things

that are going on in the meetings."

Pujols' response just added fuel to the heat surrounding Hatcher. The longest-tenured

hitting coach in baseball, Hatcher has been with the Angels since Mike Scioscia became

manager in 2000. He has been the target of fan ire any time the team has slipped into an

offensive slump -- never more so than recently with the team off to one of the worst

starts in franchise history and the hitters (Pujols, in particular) under-performing

greatly.

Hatcher said he spoke with Pujols about the "misunderstanding" on Tuesday and "I know

that he doesn't want to be talked about." Scioscia (who has consistently defended Hatcher

against critics) was dismissive when asked if he had met with the two to resolve matters.

"There's nothing to resolve," Scioscia said. "Albert's fine. Mickey's fine. There's no

issue."

But there is an issue -- Pujols went hitless again in Tuesday's 4-0 victory over

Minnesota and is now batting .208 with no home runs and five RBI in his first 24 games as

an Angel.
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