Pujols intent on returning before season ends

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The walking boot came off Albert Pujols’ left foot for the first time in three weeks Friday, and the Angels first baseman said he intends to begin swinging a bat next week so he can return to the lineup this season.
 
“It feels really good,” Pujols said. “It’s good to be out of the boot.”
 
Pujols has been on the disabled list since July 27 because of a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot. He had been bothered by the injury for most of the season, but it finally put him down for good July 26 in Oakland.
 
Pujols said he plans to start taking swings next week, but running isn’t currently in his short-term plans.
 
“I have to get my strength (back) and exercise and hopefully next week start taking some swings and see how I feel,” he said. “I can’t just go out there and try to run the bases or take some hacks right away. Being in the boot for three weeks, I don’t want to do anything like that.”
 
Pujols, whose injury relegated him to 65 of 99 games at designated hitter to keep him off the bases, said he remains intent on returning before the season ends, despite the fact the Angels are out of the playoff picture.
 
He even has a return date in mind.
 
“When I start hitting and doing more exercise, I’ll have a pretty good idea of when and pretty much what day,” he said. “I have a day in my mind, but if it’s not that day then I’ll have to see how it goes from there.”
 
Manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols will need medical clearance before he tries to play again, but if he gets it, he would have no problem with him returning to the lineup.
 
“Mentally it would be important for him to get back to playing so he can get ready for next year, and that’s only if he is going to be physically where he needs to be,” Scioscia said.
 
On another front, Pujols refused to discuss his threat to sue former St. Louis Cardinals player Jack Clark, who alleged that Pujols used performance-enhancing drugs early in his career.
 
Clark made the allegations during his St. Louis radio show this month, but he was subsequently fired along with his co-host.
 
Pujols issued a statement denying the charge and said he would take legal action against Clark and the station.
 
“What I said in there, I mean it,” he said of his statement. “You guys will find out the rest later.”