MARYVALE, Ariz. — The Angels are having a brutal spring training by won-loss standards — they’re last in the majors at 5-13 — but they got some good news Tuesday despite another defeat, a 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
First baseman Albert Pujols — coming off right knee surgery — started in the field for the first time in 2013, and he reiterated that he doesn’t expect to be a permanent DH anytime soon.
“I’m not going to DH if I can help it,” Pujols said after being hit by a pitch, robbed of a homer by Brewer CF Logan Schafer and five innings with no defensive chances. “It’s obviously not my favorite thing to do.
“It’s just not for me.
“Last year it was hard to find the right (routine) to do in between at bats, and sometimes I hit so much in the cage during the game that I felt worn out. When you train your body over the years to do something, your body gets used to that. When you DH, though, you have to take a lot of extra hitting, and I found out last year that I over-hit and got tired.”
He did go on to say that he’d be willing to do anything needed to help the Angels win, but hoped that the DH position would be one used only to give him an occasional rest.
“If I have to do it, I’ll do it,” said Pujols, who’s hitting .318 with 2 homers so far in the spring. “Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do. No problem. But hopefully it would only be for a short time.
“I feel really good with the knee,” Pujols continued. “(Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia) told me that if this was Opening Day I would be playing (in the field) every day, and I would be ready to go.
“I know it’s something I’m going to have to take care of — probably all throughout the season. Keep it strong with my therapy and if there’s some swelling or stiffness, then maybe that’s when I could DH for a while.”
Scioscia said that unless there’s a setback between now and Opening Day, Pujols will start at first and 27-year-old Mark Trumbo will be the designated hitter.
“That’s exactly the plan,” he said, “but you never know how injuries will play a part in it. Hopefully none, but you just don’t know. Albert always keeps himself in great shape, and as long as he can play at first base, he will.”
That’s not to say Trumbo will be relegated exclusively to the DH role.
“There will be plenty of chances for Mark to play in the field this season,” Scioscia said. “He can play first, third and the corner outfield spots, and he’ll keep himself ready to go at any of them.”
Like many players rehabbing from injuries and/or surgeries, Pujols said the longer spring training schedule brought about by the World Baseball Classic has been extremely beneficial for him.
“It helped me a lot,” Albert said. “Every year … the games seem to start about March 3. This year we were able to report early, and it was a real plus for me. I didn’t have to miss that many spring training games, and I’m ahead of where I would be in a normal year.
“I feel good at the plate, I’m seeing the ball really good, and now it’s just a matter of getting my timing right and taking it into the season.”