There may come a day when Albert Pujols steps to bat at Busch Stadium, dressed in the red of the Angels, playing against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Josh Hamilton got booed Friday, in his return to Anaheim. He got booed viciously in his first game in Texas two years ago, after he spurned the Rangers to sign a $125-million contract with the Angels.
Pujols spurned the Cardinals to sign a $240-million contract with the Angels. He said he would not expect the St. Louis fans to boo him.
“I’d be shocked if they do it,” Pujols said Friday. “If they do it, then I understand. There’s nothing that I can do. But I would be really surprised if that happens.”
For the second time, Major League Baseball has botched an obvious dramatic angle. In 2013, Pujols’ second season in Anaheim, the Angels drew the Cardinals in interleague play, but the games were in Anaheim.
The Angels draw the Cardinals in interleague play next season, but the games will be in Anaheim again. By the time the teams next meet — in 2019 — Pujols will be eight years removed from his tenure with the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have flourished without him. They have appeared in the National League Championship Series in each of the three years since his departure. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted this week that the Cardinals turned the two compensatory draft picks they got into star pitcher Michael Wacha and top prospect Stephen Piscotty — under the headline “Pujols is the gift that keeps giving to Cardinals.”
In his 11 years in St. Louis, the Cardinals won the World Series twice, and Pujols won the NL most-valuable-player award three times.
“I was a kid coming in there, into a great organization, with so many great players around me,” Pujols said. “Great fans. Great atmosphere to play. I enjoyed every moment, just like I enjoy it here.”
Pujols thought back to 2004, when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th home run in St. Louis, and the entire stadium stood to cheer for him. Pujols said the fans there appreciate the game so much that he could not imagine getting booed.
“If it happens, it’s nothing I can control,” Pujols said. “Fans are fans. They love the game. If that happens in St. Louis, what can I do? That’s not going to throw me off from what I need to do, which is try to beat the Cardinals whenever I face them.
“But I never in that stadium heard a boo before, even when we were getting our butts kicked. Maybe it has changed over the last few years, but I doubt it. They’re the best fans in baseball.”
The Angels purchased third baseman Conor Gillaspie from the Chicago White Sox, giving them a short-term replacement for the injured David Freese. Gillaspie, 28, had been designated for assignment by the White Sox after batting .238 with three home runs in 58 games. He is expected to join the Angels on Saturday. … Manager Mike Scioscia said rookie third baseman Kyle Kubitza would remain with the team after Gillaspie reports. Kubitza played left field at triple A in the last week before his callup, and Daniel Robertson started ahead of Matt Joyce in left field on Friday. With the Angels trying to trade for a left fielder as well, Joyce’s roster spot could be in danger. Joyce is batting .179, the lowest of any major league outfielder with at least 250 plate appearances. … Scioscia said Jered Weaver would not start in the Angels’ next series against the Houston Astros, meaning Weaver would not rejoin the rotation for at least another week. Weaver, whose 4.75 earned-run average is higher than any of the current starters, has been on the disabled list since June 21 because of an inflamed hip.