— There is already speculation that Albert Pujols’ 10-year, $240-million contract will become as heavy a burden on the Angels as Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275-million deal is on the New York Yankees.
Pujols, 33, is in the second year of his deal. His salary jumps from $16 million this season to $23 million in 2014 and will increase by $1 million a year until 2021, when he’ll make $30 million.
While the 6-foot-3, 235-pound slugger was productive in 2012, hitting .285 with 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in, his average, on-base and slugging percentages have dropped for three straight years. He had right-knee surgery last October and he has plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
But after hitting two homers and drawing three intentional walks in Saturday’s 8-4 win, Pujols gave a strong indication he will not allow himself to become an albatross to the Angels.
“God has given me ability and talent, but the day I feel like I can’t compete any more on this level, I’m not going to embarrass myself,” Pujols said. “I’m going to walk off. Whether that’s next year, two years from now, only God knows.”
Pujols didn’t mean to say he plans to retire in a year or two — he still has a passion to compete and to prove people he can still play, much like he did last season, when he rebounded from a horrendous start.
“It seems like when people doubt me, I always have that chip on my shoulder to prove them wrong,” Pujols said. “I’ve been doing that since the day I became a professional.”
Mike Trout’s global reach continues to grow. The 21-year-old outfielder graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine last season, and he has endorsement deals with Nike and Subway.
Trout is in Major League Baseball television spots that began airing on national broadcasts this weekend, and he’s on the cover of GQ magazine this month. Saturday morning in Texas, Trout taped an interview with Ryan Seacrest for a story that is scheduled to air on Tuesday’s “Today” show.
“It’s pretty crazy, all this stuff I’m getting into, but it’s a great experience for me,” Trout said before Saturday’s game. “Ryan is a cool dude, a great guy. It was neat to talk to him.”
Only 12 players have been intentionally walked three times in a game twice, and two were in Angels uniforms Saturday, Pujols and Manager Mike Scioscia, who twice got three free passes in a game when he caught for the Dodgers. … Sunday night’s series finale will feature a marquee pitching matchup as Angels ace Jered Weaver, a 20-game winner in 2012, opposes Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, who came within one out of throwing a perfect game in Houston on Tuesday. … Ryan Madson took a positive step in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery Saturday, throwing 20 fastballs off a mound at 75%. … Utilityman Bill Hall, released in March after an injury-plagued camp, has re-joined the Angels on a minor league deal according to his Twitter account and will report to extended spring training in Arizona.