Albert Pujols will undergo surgery Wednesday to remove a bone spur in his right (throwing) elbow, only two weeks after the Angels first baseman had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
The recovery time for both procedures is four to six weeks, which should give the 38-year-old slugger enough time to complete his normal offseason training regimen. Pujols also had an injection Friday for tendinitis in his left elbow.
“I’m not going to play the rest of the season, so I might as well take care of the little things for next year,” Pujols said before the Angels’ 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday night in Angel Stadium. “With physical therapy and a good offseason, everything should be back in the right place.”
Pujols, who has three years and $87 million left on his contract, started 70 games at first base this season after being limited by foot injuries to a combined 34 starts in the field in 2016 and 2017. That allowed the Angels to use two-way star Shohei Ohtani at designated hitter on a regular basis this season.
Ohtani has emerged as an offensive force, batting .294 with a .970 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 19 home runs and 54 runs batted in, and making a strong push for rookie-of-the-year honors.
Ohtani is expected to undergo elbow surgery that will limit him to hitting in 2019, so Pujols, who hit .245 with a .700 OPS, 19 home runs and 64 RBIs, will need to play first base to maximize his at-bats.
Pujols’ knee began bothering him in late May. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and went on the disabled list for 11 days in mid-July. He had the cleanout procedure Aug. 29.
“I thought going to the DL would calm it down, and it did,” Pujols said. “But it started flaring up again, and it was time to shut it down.”
Ohtani met with general manager Billy Eppler and the team’s medical staff after batting practice Monday to discuss the timing of his anticipated elbow reconstruction surgery. Ohtani could return as a hitter within six months but would have to have the surgery by the end of September to be ready for 2019.
“There’s a lot of options laid out for me, so I’m going to think about it,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I haven’t made any decisions, but I should sometime soon.”
Angels right-hander Jamie Barria, who was 6-1 with a 2.43 earned-run average in his previous eight starts and 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA in four starts against Texas this season, lasted only three innings Monday night.
After breezing through a one-two-three first inning, the rookie gave up four runs and three hits, including Joey Gallo’s two-run double and Ronald Guzman’s two-run home run, and walked three batters in the second inning.
Barria was replaced by right-hander Taylor Cole, who threw four perfect innings with three strikeouts. Left-hander Mike Minor (12-7) limited the Angels to one run and six hits in six innings.
Ohtani doubled and scored on Jose Fernandez’s single in the fourth inning, and lined a two-out run-scoring single to left-center field against left-hander Alex Claudio in the seventh.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout robbed Adrian Beltre of two hits, racing to the warning track and making a lunging catch of a third-inning drive, and racing in to make a diving catch of an eighth-inning flare.
No long goodbyes
Mike Scioscia, who is expected to step down as manager at the end of this season, has made it clear the focus should remain on the team and not on him.
To underscore that point, Scioscia, in his 19th season, is not expected to make an announcement about his future until after the season, according to a person familiar with his thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about it.
That means there will be no public farewells this month. The Angels close the season with six home games against Texas (Sept. 24-26) and Oakland (Sept. 28-30).
Asked Monday whether he has met with owner Arte Moreno and Eppler to discuss his future, Scioscia said “nothing has changed since last October, but at some point, sure, we will.”