Albert Pujols Returns For Spring Training Debut

Albert Pujols will play Tuesday after knee surgery this offseason.

The Los Angeles Angels star first baseman Albert Pujols returns to action Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. Pujols is making the appearance 10 days ahead of schedule after knee surgery this offseason.

Albert Pujols was raking out .320 averages and 40 home run seasons left and right during his 11 years with the St. Louis Cardinals but saw his batting average drop to a career low .285 in his move to the American League. The Angels are coming off a year full of underachieved expectations, which ended by missing the playoffs.

Tommy Hanson will make his first start in an Angels uniform after being acquired by the Angels from the Atlanta Braves. Hanson finished the 2012 season with a respectable 13-10 record, though his earned run average was the highest of his career at 4.48.

Mike Trout will play left with Peter Bourjos in center and Josh Hamilton in right. This is the Angels projected starting outfield who could use the reps together. Josh Hamilton has had to spend time as the designated hitter of late due to sore quadriceps. Albert Pujols will be the DH today.

The Cincinnati Reds have not played the best baseball of late, losing five straight games this spring. The Reds have only won twice in their first 12 spring training games. The ten losses have them at the bottom of the Cactus League, only ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, ironically.

Maybe Albert Pujols’ return is much more important than we first expected as the Angels are off to a 1-8 start. Rarely does anyone put much thought into spring training numbers, but, with the talent pool in the Angels system, you wonder why they aren’t winning games.

Double-A and Triple-A players are still professionals, and losing seven of eight is never a good sign. Some of these guys will eventually be called up in key moments throughout the season and will be expected to produce. Nevertheless, you will see much more talent on the field today as they take on the Reds.

Pujols will not be stretching singles today, and should be in cruise mode if he does reach base. Albert Pujols returns just at the right time, in the middle of the spring as his teammates get closer to opening day form.