Twice on this homestand, Albert Pujols has made diving stops at first base, including a ninth-inning snag Friday that prevented Seattle from breaking a 3-3 tie.
Afterward, manager Mike Scioscia called the play “a game saver” and praised the toughness of the 38-year-old who, in his 18th season, continues to play despite knee issues.
“That’s why Albert was such a special player for all those years in St. Louis and when he came over here,” Scioscia said. “You see the Gold Glove-caliber first base that he played for all those years.”
Pujols received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his knee before the All-Star break and spent 10 days on the disabled list, the Angels trying to help him manage his health as the summer progresses.
Immediately following the play Friday, Pujols was visibly limping and moving gingerly. As expected, though, he was back in the starting lineup Saturday and went one for four with a double.
“Albert’s tough,” Scioscia said. “He’s playing at a high level on both sides of the ball.”
Pujols has started all six games since coming off the disabled list Monday. Five of those starts came at first base and the other as the designated hitter.
The more he can play on defense the more the Angels can use Shohei Ohtani as DH, an important consideration for a team that has struggled with offensive consistency all season.
Ohtani’s pitching making progress
Ohtani noticeably ramped up his rehabilitation program Saturday, throwing harder during a flat-ground pitching session before the game.
He is still in the early stages of trying to return to the mound this season after receiving platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections June 7 to treat his damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Ohtani started as the DH and went one for five with a double, after entering the game hitless in his previous 11 at-bats. He is four for 30 since the All-Star break, a slide that dropped his average to a season-low .262..