Fallen Angel

Ryan Boyer
Ryan Boyer discusses Albert Pujols' quick recovery, Hunter Pence's injury and much more in Tuesday's Spring Training Daily

ST Daily: Pujols Progressing

Ryan Boyer discusses Albert Pujols' quick recovery, Hunter Pence's injury and much more in Tuesday's Spring Training Daily

Things can’t get much worse for the Angels right now.

The Halos suffered their 10th loss in the last 13 games on Tuesday, and the defeat came against the Astros, who snapped a six-game losing streak of their own. Los Angeles is now sporting a lowly 11-21 record, a win total that surpasses only the Astros’ and Marlins’.

The struggles of Josh Hamilton have been well documented. The pitching staff has failed to perform after the injury to ace Jered Weaver. Mike Trout, while certainly not playing poorly, has fallen off notably from last year’s pace to this point.

A guy that hasn’t seemed to have the finger pointed at him much is Albert Pujols. Maybe that’s because there are others that deserve more of the blame. Maybe it’s because Pujols was hitting a lot worse at this time last season, so his numbers don’t look nearly as bad by comparison. But make no mistake about it: Pujols hasn’t played well.

After an 0-for-3 performance Tuesday that included two strikeouts, Pujols’ batting line has slid to .231/.317/.397. It’s been much worse over the last 15 games, as the $254 million man is hitting only .145 over that stretch. Take out the 4-for-8, two-homer showing in the marathon game against the A’s and, well, it gets a lot worse.

What’s been even uglier than Pujols’ work at the plate lately has been watching him try to run. The 33-year-old has been dealing with plantar fasciitis off and on for multiple seasons now, but it appears to have really been bothering him this year. He’s made only three more starts at first base (17) than he has at DH (14) in 2013 as the Angels try to keep him off his feet as much as possible.

I doubt the Angels would be able to talk Pujols into a trip to the disabled list even if they wanted to. Rest is the only prescription for his foot problem, though, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if his health gets worse before it gets better.

Pujols batted .305/.365/.569 from May 6 on last season after his slow start, so we certainly can’t rule out another big turnaround. He’s never looked this old, though, and he’s on pace for his highest strikeout total since his rookie season. “El Hombre’s” numbers have been in a steady decline since 2009, and it’s looking like they’ll continue to trend in the wrong direction.

Nearly Perfect

When Doc Gooden has taken to keeping track of your strikeouts on Twitter, you know things are going pretty well.

Matt Harvey was at it again on Tuesday against the White Sox, recording a career-high 12 strikeouts while allowing just an infield single to Alex Rios over nine innings of work. He also didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 17 career major league starts. Unfortunately, Harvey failed to record a win, as the Mets were shut out until scratching out a run in the 10th.

Harvey had looked somewhat human in his previous two outings, giving up three runs over six frames against the Dodgers and requiring 121 pitches to cover just 5 1/3 innings against the Marlins. He bounced back in a big way against Chicago, though, and now boasts a microscopic 1.28 ERA and 0.69 WHIP for the season with 58 punchouts over 49 1/3 frames.

Tazawa to Close for Boston

The Red Sox on Tuesday officially placed Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. The news was good overall, as Hanrahan doesn’t have any issues with his elbow ligament. Still, he’s going to be out for a while, and with Andrew Bailey (biceps) also on the shelf, Boston needs a new closer.

That closer will be Junichi Tazawa, not Koji Uehara. Uehara has worked later in games than Tazawa this season, but the Red Sox are worried about Uehara’s occasional home run issues, as well as his ability to work in two and three games in a row.

Tazawa is certainly a fine choice, as he’s been a force in Boston’s bullpen this season, posting a 2.51 ERA and 18/3 K/BB ratio over 14 1/3 innings of work. Dating back to the beginning of last season, he boasts a 1.70 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 63/8 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 frames.

The Red Sox will likely go back to either Bailey or Hanrahan in the ninth inning, whoever gets healthy first. But Tazawa has been dominant for a while now, so we can’t rule out him potentially running away with the job.

National League Quick Hits: J.J. Putz exited Tuesday’s save chance against the Dodgers after issuing a leadoff walk due to elbow stiffness. With David Hernandez having already pitched, Heath Bell nailed down the save. It's not clear at this point how much time Putz will miss ... Shin-Soo Choo hit the second of back-to-back home runs off of Craig Kimbrel (Devin Mesoraco had the first) in the ninth inning Tuesday in the Reds’ comeback win ... Travis Wood held the Cardinals to one run over 6 2/3 innings Tuesday and now boasts a 2.33 ERA and 0.93 WHIP for the season ... Tyler Cloyd will be recalled to start on Friday against the Diamondbacks, taking the spot of the injured Roy Halladay (shoulder) ... Logan Forsythe (foot) will try jogging Wednesday for the first time since landing on the disabled list ... Carlos Quentin sat out Tuesday with more knee issues but is expected back Wednesday ... Troy Tulowitzki didn’t play Tuesday due to a sore adductor muscle, but he could return Wednesday ... James McDonald landed on the disabled list with right shoulder discomfort ... Jayson Werth (hamstring) was out of the Nationals' lineup again Tuesday but is experiencing improvement ...

American League Quick Hits: J.A. Happ had to be taken to a Tampa-area hospital after being struck near the left ear with a line drive on Tuesday. He is conscious and alert, but results of a CT scan aren’t yet known ... The A’s are expected to place Josh Reddick (wrist) on the disabled list prior to Wednesday’s game. Daric Barton will take his spot on the roster ... Mark Trumbo slugged his ninth homer in Tuesday’s loss to the Astros ... A.J. Pierzynski sat out Tuesday after aggravating his oblique injury, but he’s hoping to return to action Friday ... Vinnie Pestano (elbow) is expected to only need the minimum amount of time on the disabled list ... Scott Diamond pitched seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox Tuesday, lowering his ERA to 3.03 ... Will Middlebrooks will undergo a precautionary X-ray and CT scan on his right side following a collision with David Ross Tuesday, but he’s expected to be fine ... Hector Santiago tossed seven scoreless inning while whiffing eight in Tuesday’s loss to the Mets ... Zach McAllister lowered his ERA to 2.63 with 7 2/3 scoreless frames against the A’s ... A’s manager Bob Melvin doesn't think Jarrod Parker (neck) will miss his next start ... Jered Weaver (elbow) will throw a bullpen session on Thursday but is still at least two weeks away from a return ... Gordon Beckham (hand) hopes to begin a rehab assignment by the end of next week ... 

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