Pujols breathes a huge sigh of relief …
Albert Pujols thought for sure he was headed to the disabled list when he arrived at a local hospital late Wednesday night and saw the inside of his left hand swell up like a balloon, a result of the mid-90s fastball he absorbed a few minutes earlier.
But a CT scan ruled out a fracture, revealing only a bruise, and Pujols breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“My hand swelled up twice as much yesterday,” Pujols said. “I couldn’t feel my fingers. That’s the whole reason I came out of the game. I couldn’t grip the bat.”
About half the swelling had subsided by Thursday afternoon, but Pujols had a hard time gripping the bat, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia kept him out of the lineup for the finale of a four-game series at Rogers Centre. He hopes to return on Friday, when the Angels open up a weekend series at Fenway Park.
“I could’ve gone out there and played today,” Pujols said, “but one day won’t hurt it. If I feel good in less than 24 hours, I’ll play tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll feel, not 100 percent, but good enough to play where I can swing the bat.”
Pujols is off to a slow start, batting .231 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in his first 38 games. But the Angels’ struggling offense – 29th in the Majors in runs per game, 30th in OPS – can ill-afford to lose anyone for an extended period of time right now, especially not its No. 3 hitter.
Pujols got plunked by Drew Hutchison in the fourth inning and immediately figured he’d be coming out of the game. The 35-year-old first baseman ran the bases – and let out his anger on a late slide into second base – then stayed in for defense in the bottom half and couldn’t properly squeeze the glove while catching a throw on a double-play ball.
So Marc Krauss replaced Pujols as a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth, then won the game with a two-run double two innings later.
Pujols is thankful the hit by pitch didn’t affect the area where he suffered a fractured left wrist in June 2011, an injury that kept him out a couple of weeks but occurred along the upper part of his forearm.
“My strength is there, but because it’s so swollen, I can’t grip the bottom part of my bat,” said Pujols, who had his left hand heavily wrapped. “You can be sore in your hamstring or your leg, but if it’s your hand and you can’t swing the bat, it’s hard. I don’t want to put myself in that situation. If it was Game 7 of the World Series, yeah, but we still have a long season.”