Angels continue weekend series without Pujols
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels' Tyler Skaggs and the Houston Astros' Collin McHugh are the scheduled starters for Saturday's game, but more notable is who won't be there.
The Angels made it official Friday when they shut down Albert Pujols for the rest of the season. He will wind up missing the final five games because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, something that has bothered him for the past month.
Many criticized the Angels for signing Pujols to a 10-year contract prior to the 2012 season, knowing Pujols would be 41 by the end of the contract. Injuries would surely slow him down, it was said.
And while Pujols has suffered a number of injuries primarily to his legs and feet since joining the Angels, he has managed to stay in the lineup and put up numbers. He is exactly halfway through his contract at five years, and has played in at least 152 games in four of them, including this season.
He has hit 28 home runs or more in four of the five seasons, including 40 as recently as last year. And his 119 RBIs this season were the most since he had 135 in 2009 with the Cardinals, when he won the last of his three MVP awards.
And while Angels manager Mike Scioscia has made Pujols more of a designated hitter than first baseman in order to keep him off his feet as much as possible and keep him healthy, Pujols said Friday he wants that to change.
"I'm going to be ready to play first base," Pujols told reporters Friday. "Hopefully I'll get to train the way I want and I'll come back as a first baseman. I want to get back on the field."
Pujols accepted Scioscia's decision to DH him this season -- he started 28 games at first base and 123 as the DH -- but it wasn't like he loved it.
"It was all right," he said. "(But) I'm not going to be doing that next year."
That, of course, is up to Scioscia, who wasn't willing to make any decisions just yet.
"We're a better team when he plays first base," Scioscia said. "He's a terrific first baseman, but not at the expense of losing what he needs to do in the batter's box."
The Astros' George Springer will be in the lineup Saturday as Astros manager A.J. Hinch wants to give his right fielder the opportunity to play in all 162 games. No Astro has played in all 162 since Carlos Lee in 2007.
Springer also is one home run away from 30 for the season, and second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa are four RBIs shy of 100.
With the club eliminated from playoff contention, those individual milestones are something Hinch is paying attention to.
"There's a couple of guys that are chasing some individual plateaus that are important to them, and if it's important to them, it's important to me," Hinch said. "A hundred RBIs for Altuve and Correa would be a great cap to their personal seasons. George is one homer shy of 30 and he's played in (160). So I'll pay attention to a little bit of that."