Albert Pujols not focused on 700th home run, will still retire after season

Whether he hits the 700 mark or not, Albert Pujols is going to retire after the season.

The St. Louis Cardinals icon, who has 692 home runs throughout his career, confirmed to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he isn’t basing his retirement plans off of that number.

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His playing career, he said, is over at the end of the season, regardless.

“I’m still going to retire, no matter whether I end up hitting 693, 696, 700, whatever,’’ Pujols said, via USA Today. “I don’t get caught up in numbers. If you were going to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you’re freakin’ crazy. My career has been amazing.’’

Nothing, he insisted, could change his mind.

“No, I’ve had enough,” he said. “I’m glad I made the announcement this was it when I signed. Really, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Pujols reached a one-year deal with the Cardinals earlier this year to return to St. Louis, which is when he announced his plans to retire after the season.

The 42-year-old spent his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals before leaving for the Los Angeles Angels, where he stayed until a brief stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Pujols hit a pair of home runs Saturday during St. Louis' 16-7 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which brought him to six home runs in August. He is currently fifth on Major League Baseball’s all-time home runs list, though he’s the highest active player, and he’s four away from Alex Rodriquez’s 696 mark.

If he can hit 700, he’d join Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds in doing so.

Though he has 42 games after Sunday’s series finale with the Diamondbacks to do so, Pujols is just happy to be finishing his career in St. Louis.

“No matter what happens, buddy, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “I’ve had an unbelievable career. How blessed am I?”

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols is just eight home runs away from joining the 700 club. (AP/Matt York)