Albert Pujols said he would boo himself if he were watching from the stands but warned against anyone writing himself off amid the worst slump of his stellar 12-year career.
"I’ve been through this before," the Angels first baseman told USA Today. "By the end of the year, my numbers will still be there. You’ll see."
The out-of-sorts slugger was benched by manager Mike Scioscia on Saturday — even forgoing batting practice — a day after Los Angeles fans shared their dissent with the team’s prized offseason acquisition.
Pujols was booed after going 0-for-4 Friday in the Angels’ 4-0 home loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, a showing that dropped the three-time National League MVP’s batting average to .194 and made it a career-worst 108 at-bats without a home run since he arrived from St. Louis. The homerless run extends to 137 at-bats taking into account his final days with the Cardinals.
"If I could boo myself, I’d boo myself, too," Pujols said. "But I know better than to just get myself down. My message to the fans is that they have a reason. They have a reason to boo. I’m not performing the way that I can. But just the way that I’m patient, they need to be patient in knowing that I’m going to be here for 10 years."
The 32-year-old said while he accepts criticism, the focus on his slump was overblown.
"People are talking all of this (stuff). They’re making such a big deal out of it. I can take it. I’m a big boy," he said, adding that the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed this winter made him an obvious target for disappointed fans.
"The expectations on this team were so high," he said ahead of Saturday’s game against Toronto. "It’s like people expected us to be 27-0. And I have that biggest contract of the winter, so I’m the one getting blamed."
The Angels coped well in his absence Saturday night, beating the Blue Jays 6-2 in Anaheim to go 11-17.