Learned thing #2: Albert Pujols looked… not that bad
Albert Pujols has been beset by problems with his feet, his weight, and his age, and all those factors have helped people forget that he was at one point the greatest first baseman in National League history. Having spent most of the last two seasons at DH, Angel fans haven’t gotten to see much of the defensive prowess that won him a pair of Gold Gloves.
Pujols is slated to spend a lot more time at first base this season, and in his first game, he looked pretty good. In the first inning, with runners at the corners, Pujols handled a tricky hop along the first base line and threw a perfect strike to nail the runner coming down from third base. In the second inning, he showed good mobility going in to lis left to snag a sharp grounder that was just foul.
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He also looked pretty good at the plate as well, drilling a long home run in the top of the sixth to give the Angels a 5-4 lead they would not hold. However, his loss of speed is still painfully apparent. In the top of the 10th, Pujols hit a line drive into the left-centerfield gap, but only managed a single out of it. Kole Calhoun then followed with his third hit of the game, a single to left that would have put any reasonable big leaguer on third bas. Pujols stopped at second. Pujols’ lead feet is going to be a rally-stopper all season long, and Mike Scioscia is going to have to learn to be more aggressive in pinch-running for him in late-and-close situations.