ANAHEIM, Calif. – Albert Pujols is leaving open the possibility he could return this season from a torn ligament in his left foot, a decision he said won’t depend on how his struggling team is doing in the standings.
Pujols went on the disabled list Sunday and missed part of the Angels’ disastrous 1-6 road trip, but he insisted he isn’t shutting down his season, even if the team is unable to somehow climb back in the American League West race.
“I’m taking it one day at a time,” he said Thursday as the Angels began a series against the Toronto Blue Jay at Angel Stadium. “After three weeks, or whenever I get out of the boot, it depends on how I feel. But it’s still a long way until the season is done, so I don’t want to say I’m done for the season.”
Pujols has been slowed virtually the entire season by plantar fasciitis in his foot, and he finally tore the ligament after hitting a ninth-inning single against the Oakland A’s last Sunday. The only upside to the injury is that it may have spared him having to undergo surgery, which would have done the same thing to reduce inflammation.
Although Pujols has been in a walking boot for less than a week, he said he was already feeling better as a result of the tear.
“I feel really good, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I don’t feel any pain at all. That tear released the pain, which is good.”
But the Angels won’t know whether Pujols can come back this season until he gets out of the boot in about three weeks and begins rehabilitation. Clearly, there’s no need to rush.
“It’s a significant injury that Albert has,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “How fast it heals or what happens is not in anybody’s hands. You’ve got to evaluate and see where it is. I know Albert, (and) when he feels he can play baseball, he wants to play baseball. It’s too far down the road to contemplate what might happen.”
Pujols, who was hitting .353 with two home runs and seven RBI in eight games since the All-Star break, said he won’t gauge his return by the Angels’ position in the West, although keeping him out would probably be the best course if they’re hopelessly out of playoff contention.
“I get paid to play this game, and if I’m fully 100 percent or 85 percent … I was already playing at 45 percent this year, so even if I feel 55 percent that I can come back and play, I’m going to be out there and playing,” he said. “I love this game. It’s what I love to do.”