Albert Pujols has plantar fasciitis, but plans to play out season
Albert Pujols, slowed for weeks by plantar fasciitis in his right foot, the same condition (but in the left foot) that ended his 2013 season in July, was asked if there was any chance he would shut himself down before the end of the season.
“For what?” the Angels slugger, clearly insulted by the question, said before Thursday night’s 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Angel Stadium.
To take care of himself, he is told.
“I’ll have plenty of time to take care of myself in the off-season,” Pujols, 36, said. “This is my job. Just because we’re out of it, I still want to play.”
The Angels lost for the eighth time in nine games Thursday, Toronto catcher Russell Martin blowing the game open with a three-run homer off reliever Jose Valdez for a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Left-hander J.A. Happ gave up two runs — one earned — and three hits in six innings to become the Blue Jays’ first 19-game winner since Roy Halladay in 2008.
The Angels fell out of contention in June and into last place — 23 1/2 games back — in the American League West on Thursday, but it is not in Pujols’ DNA to raise a white flag on his or the team’s season.
Which is why Pujols was in the cleanup spot again despite a one-for-24, six-game slump that dropped his average to .261 Wednesday. Pujols, who has played in 141 of 146 games, singled twice in four at-bats Thursday and has a team-high 29 homers and 110 runs batted in.
“I think in a situation where the risk gets to be overwhelming, we’ll definitely have a conversation and back off, but Albert wants to play,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “That’s what he’s here for. He’s a great role model for younger players.”
Two of those young players, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, have been grinding alongside Pujols all season. Trout played in his 142nd game, and Calhoun his 144th game, Thursday.
Pujols, Trout and Calhoun are one of only eight trios of teammates who have played in 140 games or more this season.
“Right now,” Pujols said, “we’re doing whatever it takes to help this club win as many games as we can.”
Tyler Skaggs might pitch in Arizona Instructional League during off-season
Tyler Skaggs, scratched from Wednesday’s start because of a mild flexor-pronator strain in his elbow, wants to pitch again this season “to show them I’m healthy going into the off-season and to get to the 100-inning mark,” he said.
His chances appear slim. Skaggs finally returned in late July after missing two years because of ligament replacement surgery, and the Angels don’t want to risk further injury to a pitcher they need in 2017.
But Scioscia said he would be open to Skaggs pitching in the Arizona Instructional League in October to boost his confidence and innings total.
“We’re going to be ultra-conservative with this whole thing,” Scioscia said before Thursday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “He is not on any schedule other than to get healthy and get ready to pitch in a game again.
“If he’s ready to pitch, and there is somewhere for him to pitch, it might be good for him to go down [to Arizona] and get some peace of mind.”
Skaggs was examined Thursday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed his Tommy John surgery in 2014. ElAttrache told Skaggs his ligament graft is intact.
“I knew it wasn’t very serious, but it always looks scary on Twitter when everyone sees it,” Skaggs said. “It’s not like my arm was falling off. I think this is more of a minor setback.”
Skaggs has thrown 87 1/3 innings between the big leagues and minor leagues and about 20 innings of simulated-game action. Pushing toward 120 innings will make the jump to 150-160 innings next season more realistic.
“That’s the spot I want to be at,” Skaggs said. “I think I can do that.”
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons returned after missing three games because of a bruised right hand and hit a two-run homer to left field off Happ in the seventh. Simmons had one homer entering the week; he has three in his last two games. …
With his sixth-inning walk, Trout became the 10th player in AL history with two 100-walk seasons prior to his age-25 season. …
Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson returned after missing three games because of a hip injury. He ended an 0-for-23 skid with a fourth-inning double and scored on Jose Bautista’s single. Martin’s ensuing sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Donaldson also walked and scored on Martin’s homer in the sixth, doubled in the seventh and singled in the ninth. …
Toronto scored twice in the ninth when Kevin Pillar doubled, Darwin Barney singled and Devon Travis lined a two-run single to left for a 7-2 lead.
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