When Albert Pujols was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, there were plenty of rumors about what caused the decision. Some said that Pujols asked to be released because of a soon-to-be lack of playing time, while some said it was a heated dispute within the locker room. Regardless of the truth, Pujols was released and ended up signing with the L.A. Dodgers.
Because of the rumors that has been circulating, Pujols signing with the reigning World Series champions was an interesting move. They certainly could not offer more playing time than the Angels, but could offer a better chance at a championship this year.
During his introductory press conference with the team, Pujols responded to some of the circulating rumors, particularly denying the claim that he complained about playing time. “Let me tell you something — my goal over the last two years wasn’t to try to be an everyday first baseman,” Pujols said. “I told you guys early in Spring Training, whatever role they have for me, I’m going to go with. I understand they made that decision as an organization. A business decision. And no hard feelings. I understand that.”
“They had a talk with me and that was it. Move forward and I’m just glad to get another opportunity. I think there’s a lot of things out there, ‘Oh, he wanted more playing time. He wanted to play every day.’ That never came out of my mouth. You guys asked me that question over and over, and I always told you guys, ‘However the team uses me, I’m here for that. Whether it’s mentoring the young guys, getting my at-bats.'”
Even though he denied those rumors and ensured that his own side of the story got told, he reiterated that things were good between him and the Angels organization. “Nothing happened. The organization made a decision and were moving forward in a different direction. I understood that. No problem and no hard feelings at all. It happens, it’s business. That was it. I’m just glad I got an opportunity to wear this Dodger uniform and try to help this ballclub to win.”
Now, Pujols is going to move forward as a member of the Dodgers in the pursuit of a championship in what could be his final season. He got off to a good start on Monday, going 1-for-4 including an RBI single in a Dodgers win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
His playing time will be heavily dependent on injuries, and the Dodgers have a lot of those right now. He started at first base on Monday and will reportedly start there again on Tuesday, largely due to shortstop Corey Seager being out indefinitely, causing a shift from first to second base by Max Muncy.
Joe Maddon responded to Pujols rumors
In Angels manager Joe Maddon’s most recent comments about Pujols, he said that the Hall of Fame first baseman wanted to play at first base as often as he could. That sentiment is what led to his release, as the Angels could no longer afford to play him regularly, citing a need to shift back to Jared Walsh at that position.