Albert Pujols was 'shocked' by Angels release, denies their bench player claims
Albert Pujols officially joined the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday on a one-year deal, following a move by the Los Angeles Angels to release the future Hall of Famer in May.
That decision, coming in the final year of Pujols’ contract, surprised plenty in the baseball world — including Pujols himself.
“It shocked me, I think like everybody,” he said Monday, via The Associated Press. “But at the end of the day, no hard feelings at all. I’m here with this organization and I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m not the only player that’s probably going to go through this.”
Pujols denies Angels’ bench player claims
Pujols, 41, was in the final year of the 10-year, $253 million deal he signed with the Angels when they opted to designate him for assignment. Pujols joined the Angels after spending his first 11 seasons in Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Angels said that the decision was a mutual one after Pujols said that he wanted to play every single day. Angels manager Joe Maddon said that Pujols “did not want to be a bench player of any kind,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
It makes sense why the Angels would want to slowly move away from the longtime first baseman and designated hitter, considering that the three-time NL MVP’s stats were rapidly declining and that the team had better players available at his positions.
Pujols, however, insisted Monday that he never told the team that he needed to play every day.
“I think there’s a lot of things out there saying, ‘Oh, you wanted more playing time, you wanted to play every day,’” Pujols said, via The Associated Press. “That never came out of my mouth.”
“My goal the last two years was never to try to be an everyday first baseman. I told you guys in spring training, whatever role they have for me, I’m going to go with. I understand they made that decision as an organization, a business decision, and no hard feelings. I understand that.”
It’s unclear what impact Pujols will have with the Dodgers through the rest of the season, but he said he’s willing to help out with “really whatever” the team needs. He was officially activated ahead of their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks that started on Monday night, and quickly hit an RBI single in the third inning.
First hit as a Los Angeles Dodger is an RBI single for Albert Pujols ✔️
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 18, 2021
“I feel like I’ve still got some gasoline left in my tank,” Pujols said, via The Associated Press. “I’m really excited for this opportunity.”
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