Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who underwent minor surgery on his right knee after last season, will not play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed Monday.
Pujols, through his agent, expressed a desire to play in the WBC, which will be held in early March, but because of liability issues related to his surgery, he was not cleared by Major League Baseball or the players union to participate.
Pujols hit .285 with 30 home runs, 105 runs batted in and 50 doubles last season but was relegated to designated hitter for much of September after suffering his knee injury. Shortstop Erick Aybar (Dominican Republic) is the only player on the Angels’ major league roster who will play in the WBC.
Dipoto also said that closer Ryan Madson, who signed a one-year, $3.5-million deal with the Angels after missing all of 2012 because of Tommy John surgery, will not pitch in exhibition games until mid-March, a schedule that could prevent the right-hander from opening the season with the team.
Madson, who went 4-2 with a 2.37 earned-run average and 32 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, threw 20 pitches off a mound on Monday and is scheduled to progress to 25 pitches by Friday.
“We’ll be conservative with him,” Dipoto said. “Whether he’s ready to go on opening day or requires a little more time, I don’t anticipate too long of a delay. He’s in great shape. … We’re optimistic it could be opening day, but realistic that it might take little more time to get him ready.”
Dipoto said starting pitcher C.J. Wilson and newly signed left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, who both had surgery to remove bone spurs from their pitching elbows after last season, are “right on schedule” with their rehabilitation and throwing programs and should be ready to start spring training on Feb. 12.
In other Angels news, the team has signed Robert Coello, a hard-throwing, 6-foot-5, 250-pound right-hander, to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Coello, 28, pitched in 12 big league games for Boston and Toronto. He is 27-20 with a 3.33 ERA in six minor league seasons and will provide rotation depth at triple A or long-relief support.
Bobby Knoop, a former Angels infielder and major league coach, is returning to the organization as a minor league coordinator of infield instruction. Knoop, 74, who spent the last eight years in the Colorado Rockies organization, will be in uniform for the first several weeks of big league camp.