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Angels slugger Albert Pujols has history of early season struggles

In Albert Pujols' first season as an Angel, 2012, he finished May with a subpar .697 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. In 2013, it was .733. The next three years, his end-of-May marks were .831, .758 and .735.

In every year except 2014, he improved in the season's final four months. Nearing that marker in 2017 and carrying a career-worst .677 OPS, he is aware of the continuity.

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"The last six years here, I haven't started with a really good month in April or May," Pujols said. "It seems like I always have to find my way up. Hey, if that's the way the gods want me to be, then I can't complain about that. But, every spring training when we break camp, I wish, 'OK, this is the year. Let's try it right out of the gate instead of digging from the bottom.'

"I still have four more years left. Let's see what happens."

Pujols, 37, similarly struggled in his last season in St. Louis, 2011. Before that he was as great in April and May as he was the rest of the year. He has no explanation for the change.

"Sometimes," Pujols said, "I'm like, 'How much longer? How much longer?' "

He said he believes he has been getting unlucky, citing "a lot of bullets" hit to fielders.

"Look at our last homestand," he said. "I could've easily had four homers."

He ripped a line drive Saturday night in Miami — directly at Marlins shortstop J.T. Riddle.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler likes to evaluate seasons in thirds: 54-game, two-month snippets. Pujols is resistant to read much into his repeated early season struggles.

"Dude, you're freakin' unbelievable," Pujols said his friends tell him. "You are so blessed. Look at the way you started the last five years, and you still put up big numbers. You struggle the first two months, and then all of the sudden, you look in September and you have 30 bombs, 100-plus RBI, and hitting .270. There's not too many guys that can do that."

Short hops

The Angels activated right-hander Mike Morin from the disabled list and demoted right-hander Daniel Wright to triple-A Salt Lake. They needed an extra reliever after Jesse Chavez's short start Friday. Wright had been slated to start Tuesday, so the club will need to conjure another starter. …Right-hander Cam Bedrosian pitched to hitters for the first time in more than a month Saturday at the Angels' spring-training facility in Arizona. Recovering from a groin strain, he is nearing a rehab assignment. …Right-hander Doug Fister threw three innings of live batting practice Saturday and will next throw four innings in an extended-spring game. ...Forty-man roster right-hander Vicente Campos exited a triple-A start with an arm injury, returned to Southern California for examination and will visit Dr. David Altchek in New York this week for a second opinion.

Twitter: @pedromoura

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