Pujols could be done for season with foot injury

BY foxsports • July 28, 2013

OAKLAND --  Albert Pujols will likely sit out the rest of the season after suffering a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot Friday night, an injury that forced the Angels slugger to the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

Manager Mike Scioscia said that Pujols, who hit .258 with 17 home runs and 64 runs batted in despite being hobbled all season by the painful condition, will be out "for a significant amount of time."

The minimum recovery period for the injury is six weeks, but with the Angels all but out of playoff contention and a season-high 13 games behind Oakland in the American League West after Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Athletics, there is no need to bring Pujols back for the final two weeks of the season.

In fact, in the big picture, the injury could benefit the Angels, who have another eight years and $212 million invested in the 33-year-old Pujols after 2013.

With the plantar fascia tearing on its own, Pujols essentially replicated the surgery he was expected to have in October without having to undergo an invasive procedure.

To treat plantar fasciitis, doctors cut the band of affected tissue to release tension and relieve inflammation. The surrounding tissues attach to the injured band and help it heal.

Instead of having surgery in October and spending most of the winter rehabilitating, Pujols, who is in a walking boot and will see a foot specialist Monday, can spend the next two months recovering and, the Angels hope, have a normal off-season and come back healthy in 2014.

In the short run, though, Pujols' loss will be difficult to absorb. He was the team's No. 3 hitter and was heating up at the plate, going 12 for 34 (.353) with two home runs and seven RBIs in eight games after the All-Star break.

"It's difficult to even think we won't have him around because of what he brings to the clubhouse, to the lineup, to the game every day," shortstop Erick Aybar said through a translator.

"In a sense, we felt his pain when he was playing, and we feel it even more now that things are not good for him. We know how much pain he was in. It's baseball, we continue to move on and hope for the best for him."

The injury relegated Pujols, a Gold Glove first baseman, to designated hitter for 65 of 99 games and prevented him from running full speed on the bases, one of the reasons Pujols grounded into an AL-high 18 double plays.

But Pujols, who returned to Southern California for an MRI test Saturday and was unavailable for comment Sunday, also earned the admiration of teammates and coaches for playing through pain.

"I don't know if I've ever seen a player who wants to go out there and do everything he can until the last drop of his body is used up before considering going on the DL," Scioscia said. "He can play at a high level and be productive at what is maybe 50 to 60 percent of his health."

Pujols was replaced on the roster by outfielder Kole Calhoun, who hit .354 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI in 59 games for triple-A Salt Lake and started in right field Sunday. Mike Trout moved to the third spot in the lineup.

"This is a big blow to our team right now," said Scioscia, whose club has scored 38 runs in its last 13 games, an average of 2.9 per game. "We're going to have to mix and match and get more creative, and hopefully we can start to come alive offensively. We have to keep moving forward."

-- Mike DiGiovanna