Albert Pujols was mad, but not just at the author of an Internet story whom he felt misrepresented his words and actions during a tense team meeting before Sunday’s game.
The Angels slugger’s anger was also directed inward, toward the unidentified person who revealed details of meetings on Friday and Sunday in which General Manager Jerry Dipoto expressed frustration with the failure of Manager Mike Scioscia and his coaches to convey scouting and statistical information to players.
“Whoever leaked that story, it’s really embarrassing, because we’re supposed to be family here,” Pujols said before Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Angel Stadium. “I don’t know how that information got out.”
That information could lead to a seismic shift in the Angels’ front office, with Dipoto possibly stepping down as GM. Foxsports.com cited two unidentified sources late Tuesday night as saying Dipoto “packed up his office and left,” but a club official said after the game that the situation was “status quo.” Another club official said Dipoto’s door was closed most of the day.
Angels owner Arte Moreno visited the clubhouse after the game but declined to speak to reporters.
In the report that upset Pujols, Foxsports.com, citing unidentified major league sources, said Dipoto believes coaches too often rely on “feel” when they make decisions and do not trust information they are given or are not willing or able to translate it for players.
The data, provided by the front office, is often used to position defenders in shifts and to guide pitchers on how to pitch hitters in certain counts and locations.
The report added that “at least one coach responded heatedly to Dipoto” and that Pujols “challenged Dipoto in the meeting, saying the coaches are working as hard to prepare players as they did last season, but that the roster is not nearly as strong as it was a year ago,” when the Angels went 98-64.
“I didn’t say that,” Pujols said. “I’ve been in this game for 16 years. I would never disrespect a team.”
Does Pujols deny that he exchanged words with Dipoto?
“That’s none of your business,” he said. “Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”
Two people familiar with the meetings but not authorized to speak publicly about them confirmed that the gist of the Foxsports.com report is accurate. Dipoto declined to comment Monday night and Tuesday.
“I’m not going to comment on what happened or didn’t happen,” said Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, “but I can tell you it won’t be a distraction to these guys.”
A rift developed between Scioscia and Dipoto in 2012, Dipoto’s first year as GM, in part because of Scioscia’s resistance to data prepared by Dipoto and his staff but primarily over Dipoto’s firing of longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, one of Scioscia’s closest friends, that May.
Moreno essentially forced Dipoto, who is signed through 2016, and Scioscia, who is signed through 2018 but can opt out of his contract after this season, to resolve their differences, and the two worked better together in 2013 and 2014.
“Our relationship has grown from where it was four years ago to where it is now,” Scioscia said. Asked if he has a “good” relationship with Dipoto, Scioscia hesitated before responding.
“I think we’re a good team,” he said. “The one real issue early is when they let Mickey go, but we’ve moved way past that.”
Scioscia said the Angels have changed how scouting and statistical information will be disseminated, sending it directly to players instead having it vetted by coaches first.
“The only difference is getting the scouting reports to players and then bringing it back to coaches,” Scioscia said. “It’s a slight adjustment. Before, it went from coaches to the players.
“Now it’s going to the players, and if they have questions, they’ll bring it to the coaches. Everybody is going to have the same information.”
Pitcher C.J. Wilson believes the meetings were “a positive thing,” even if there was tension in the room.
“That’s the way I took it, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to work harder as a team overall, we’re going to have more communication overall,’” Wilson said. “So I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
“The whole goal is not about ego, it’s about winning.”
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna