Albert Pujols, meet Yu Darvish
One of the most intriguing storylines in the American League West this season revolves around Albert Pujols and Yu Darvish — the two big-name free agents brought in by the two division rivals — meeting on the field for the very first time.
Pujols spent his previous 11 seasons in St. Louis before signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. Darvish, meanwhile, spent his career in Japan before the Rangers committed about $110 million to bring insert him into their starting rotation.
But it turns out the two have already met.
“I actually just got an opportunity, believe it or not, to meet him on Thursday,” Pujols said at his press conference from Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday. “I was working out in L.A. and he walked in and introduced himself. Really nice guy, really humble. Obviously he’s looking forward to it and he’s looking forward to the battle. He knows we’re in the same division. It’s going to be fun.”
Here’s some extra stuff from the 29-minute Pujols presser that didn’t make our coverage today (thanks to Paul Casella for passing a transcript along) …
On the importance of reporting to camp early: That’s nothing new. I always report early to Spring Training. That’s something that I’ve done since the first day I got invited to a big league camp. I think it’s really important for me to get outside and hit and run and pretty much be on your own program and focus on the things that you want. Next week, obviously, when everybody gets here, you’re not on your own program anymore. So just to get used to the weather and to get to know the guys a little better before we start next week.
On not being in St. Louis for the first time: You know what, I had a great time in the city of St. Louis. Obviously, 11 years, you don’t just flip that page and say, “Move on.” There were some great moments. I was able to accomplish two World Series, and that experience is something I want to bring to this city, to Anaheim, to this ballclub, and have hopefully better seasons than I had in St. Louis and hopefully more championships.
On all the newness: You know what, that’s something that everybody’s asking. … The game doesn’t change. When I got into the big leagues in 2001, I didn’t know anyone in the National League, so that’s how I’m going to take it. It’s a different league, but I came in in 2001 and didn’t know any pitchers around the league.With the technology and the scouting right now, you get some good feed and you’ll be able to ask guys questions and go by the scouting reports.
On whether he was able to enjoy his second World Series championship with St. Louis: You have to enjoy it. That’s what you play for. That’s what you dream, to be a champion, and I was able to be win two, so I’m blessed for that. You retire 10 years from now and that’s what you look back, this memory. Not the numbers, it’s how many World Series rings and to be able to raise that trophy at the end.
On being the face of the franchise and doing all the extracurricular stuff: First of all, I need to make sure that I prepare for my job — baseball. It’s something I don’t want to change, but I’ve been doing that in St. Louis, through my foundation and that’s something I’m going to bring to Anaheim and this organization. Just because I’m on a different ballclub, I’m not going to change who I am. God has given me some talent in the field and God blessed me with a great wife, great family, great foundation and I believe that’s part of the responsibility that I have, to give back. So I expect myself to be busy on and off the field whenever I get that time to work in the foundation.
On DH’ing a little bit down the road: I think that’s a great question to ask Mike [Scioscia], I don’t make those decisions. I’m a first baseman, and whenever I see myself in the lineup whether it’s at first, third, wherever he needs me. When he comes and asks me I’ll play whatever he asks me to play. I don’t make those decisions to be a DH. I’m ready to play every day, 162 games if I can, and just go out there and give my best.
On his early season struggles last year: I don’t want to blame any of that on my contract last year, my struggles in April and May, because I bounced back after the break to right where I wanted to be. Stuff like that you have to go through during the season to make you better. If everything looks beautiful and you have a great career without struggle, then you wouldn’t be able to enjoy this game. You have to struggle in this game.
And here’s what did make the coverage today …
* Pujols arrives, embraces new season and team
* Spencer, on the potential Albert-Kendrys combo
* Pujols should be driving force for Angels
* Scioscia has embarrassment of riches at Angels camp
* Walden adding a third pitch