The Angels played the opener of an important three-game series against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night without slugger Albert Pujols, who remained in the Kansas City area to be with his wife, Deidre, who delivered the couple’s fifth child there early Sunday morning.
Pujols, who is hitting .282 with 30 home runs and a team-leading 96 runs batted in, played Sunday against the Royals in Kauffman Stadium despite being up all night with Deidre, who delivered a daughter, Esther Grace, at 3:30 a.m. The first baseman doubled once in four at-bats in the Angels’ 4-3 win.
Pujols did not accompany the team on Sunday night’s flight to Southern California, and the Angels were off Monday. Deidre Pujols remained hospitalized as of late Tuesday afternoon, but Angels Manager Mike Scioscia expects Albert to return in time for Wednesday night’s game.
“We’ve gone through stretches of the season when he’s played hurt or hasn’t been available, but for a family matter like this, there’s no doubt he’s where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “I think our lineup is deep, and hopefully on the offensive side we’ll absorb it and do what we need to do.”
Pujols’ loss left a significant hole in the middle of the lineup for the Angels, who entered Tuesday 71/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West and three games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot. But Scioscia made it clear that Pujols has the franchise’s full support.
“The plan was, whenever he got things settled, he was going to play with us,” Scioscia said. “The fact we were in Kansas City, she had the baby in Kansas City, made it easier for him to play on Sunday. And then, taking care of the matter, he needed yesterday and today. But believe me, we’re 100% behind what he needs to do for his family.”
Scioscia moved Torii Hunter into Pujols’ third spot Tuesday, behind Erick Aybar and ahead of cleanup batter Kendrys Morales.
“Morales is in there -- they’re not missing anything,” Rangers Manager Ron Washington said before the game. “This guy is starting to get back to where he was. Pujols or not, they still have a pretty good lineup.”
What, me worry?
Asked by a radio reporter Tuesday whether he was “feeling any extra heat,” a question based on speculation he might be fired if the Angels don’t make the playoffs, Scioscia was quick with a quip.
“It’s cooled off,” Scioscia said. “It’s a beautiful day compared to, what was it, 102 degrees here the other day? This is nice, especially for us fat guys. We don’t do well in that 102-degree weather, so I’m good.”
Scioscia was less flippant when asked specifically about his job status.
“That’s not a question for me,” he said. “I go about my business the same way every day. The passion is there. The results haven’t been what we hoped for, but that doesn’t change anything I do on a daily basis.”