It's too early for Albert and Angels to panic
NEW YORK -- Everyone, let's take a real deep breath and allow the season to play out.
This friendly message is brought to you by Albert Pujols, on behalf of himself and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
"It's six games," Pujols said. "This is a long season. Obviously, [it is] a slow start [for me], as a player -- as a team, too. We were expecting coming out of the gate [to] have a great start. We're 2-4. That's more disappointing than my start ... 5-for-27, or something."
Pujols began Friday hitting .217 (5-for-23) with two doubles and zero home runs. And the Angels haven't even clinched a playoff berth.
"I've been in this situation before," Pujols said. "I take it one day at a time. One-hundred sixty-two games is a long season. We'll see where we're at [when it's over]."
Indeed, Pujols has been in this situation before. He was hitting .182 after six games last season and was up to only .233 on May 4. He ended up helping the Cardinals win a World Series, so things worked out.
Still, even though Pujols may not like it, his new 10-year, $240 million contract raised expectations for both himself and his franchise.
Pujols certainly wouldn't be the first player to feel the burden of those expectations, and to see his numbers suffer in a game that demands some weird combination of intensity and relaxation.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he thought Pujols might be thinking too much, and Pujols didn't dispute that opinion.
"We're human," Pujols said. "I'm human. Sometimes that's going to happen no matter how good you prepare yourself. Sometimes, we want to press a little bit and try to do too much.
"I don't think about that. I think about getting myself prepared every day and trying to do whatever I can to help this organization win. That's my job, and it doesn't matter if I go 5-for-5 or 0-for-5. That's what we're here for.
"I had a great spring. It always seems every time a player has a great spring, they start the season real slow. When you struggle in Spring Training, you break out early in the year.
"You know ... it's just six games, guys. We've got 156 games to go."
Pujols played six regular-season games at Yankee Stadium during his 12 seasons with the Cardinals, and the last of those came in 2005, before the new park opened.
"No disrespect to the history of this organization, the Yankees, but I take it like every other park," he said, "getting here early, watching video, preparing for the game. At the end, it's just a game. Nothing changes. Maybe the fans are louder, but everything else is the same. That's the way I take it."
Pujols was asked a logical question about his 12 years with the Cardinals, 12 years when he became as beloved as any player in the franchise's history. Are there days when he still misses it?
"I'm way past that," Pujols said. "I'm not going to lie to you. [I] never thought [I was] going to be in this situation [leaving St. Louis]. But I have a new uniform and new teammates, and that's where my focus is -- to help this organization."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.