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OC Register: Angels’ Albert Pujols moving well early in camp after a rehab-free winter


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TEMPE, Ariz. >> A few days into watching workouts, Joe Maddon has been impressed with how Albert Pujols looks.

“He’s moving around really well,” Maddon said. “He looked good to me, man. I want to keep him that way. We’ll talk as the season progresses. I don’t know what he looked like the last couple years, but he looked like he was in pretty good shape to me.”

Pujols, 40, is now going on 16 months without any type of surgery. After having operations following the 2012, 2015 and 2016 seasons, and three operations in September 2018, he has been able simply concentrate on conditioning instead of rehabbing.

Last season Pujols was actually just about the only Angels player who got through the whole season healthy. He played 131 games, including 98 at first base, and he hit .244 with 23 homers and a .734 OPS.

Although Pujols is still performing well below his career averages, and certainly below what would be expected for nearly $30 million a year, he’s nonetheless improved his OPS two years in a row.

“After my surgery I was in a good place to be able to train and get myself ready for the season,” said Pujols, whose contract runs through 2021. “It’s good to not have to rehab or worry about any other injuries. I feel strong and good coming into spring training.”

Maddon said he’ll check with Pujols regularly to make sure he gets enough rest to be somewhat productive. He also said he’s got value beyond his own numbers.

“The example of Albert: he does his work specifically and beautifully, whether it’s out there on defense or in the cage,” Maddon said. “He’s so committed to his craft. The true value to me is example as much as anything. Guys like that – I still think he’s going to play at a very high level this year – but how does Albert Pujols go about his business? If I’m a young guy coming up and I get to watch that, daily? That to me is really the greatest value that anybody can receive.”

STARTING WITH TWO

The Angels open their Cactus League schedule with a split-squad on Saturday, facing the Kansas City Royals at home and the Chicago White Sox on the road. Because there are an odd number of teams in Arizona, each day at least one team needs to have a split-squad or be off.

“Split squads make you do things you don’t want to do this quickly, primarily play guys more innings than you want to play them right out of the chute,” Maddon said. “It presents some challenges.”

Maddon said that none of the “varsity” players will be playing at all on the first day. The Angels will be using relievers to pitch the first couple games.

DROPPING POPS

The Angels worked on catching popups during Thursday’s drills, and they’ll also be working on dropping them.

Maddon said that he will be picking up with an element that Brad Ausmus made a point of emphasis last year. With less than two outs, a fast runner at a first, and a slow runner at the plate, the Angels would let popups drop in order to get a force at second, replacing the fast runner with the slow one.

The Angels did it more than any other team in the majors last year.

“We’ve already talked about that,” Maddon said Thursday. “That really is a part of a player’s baseball IQ, to be able to make that decision quickly… You have to be able to process it in the moment. That may sound easy, but it’s not sometimes.”

ALSO

Reliever Ty Buttrey played catch at a distance of 90 feet on Thursday, the first time he’d thrown since he was sidelined with a strained oblique. “I felt good,” Buttrey said. “No pain. Nothing.” Buttrey is still expected to be ready for Opening Day…

Anthony Rendon left the team for the birth of his second child. He is expected to return on Saturday.

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Obligatory?       BSOHL

Seriously, if they keep him from DHing (not doing well in that slot) and limit him to about 100-110 1B starts, he could still put up an upper .700s OPS.   I'd be happy with that. 

2019 numbers - 383 1B at bats, .800 OPS;  106 DH at bats, .501 OPS

Edited by Angel Oracle
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Lol they do this every year.  Why ?  The guy is slow as shit.  Objectively one of the 10 slowest guys in the league.  Even 5 slowest most likely.  We don’t need to be pretending that he’s moving well.  He doesn’t move well for a major league player. 

Edited by UndertheHalo
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1 hour ago, UndertheHalo said:

Lol they do this every year.  Why ?  The guy is slow as shit.  Objectively one of the 10 slowest guys in the league.  Even 5 slowest most likely.  We don’t need to be pretending that he’s moving well.  He doesn’t move well for a major league player. 

I don’t think running speed is what he’s talking about when he says moving well. I think he means flexibility and agility, ability to play defense and hit.

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2 hours ago, UndertheHalo said:

Lol they do this every year.  Why ?  The guy is slow as shit.  Objectively one of the 10 slowest guys in the league.  Even 5 slowest most likely.  We don’t need to be pretending that he’s moving well.  He doesn’t move well for a major league player. 

That's ridiculous, UTH.

 

There's no way there are four guys who are slower than Albert.

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