CLEVELAND -- One of Robinson Cano's first calls went to Albert Pujols.
The Yankees' second baseman, serving as the captain for the American League in the State Farm Home Run Derby, wanted his good friend to join the team. And Pujols, who has competed in three Home Run Derby events, would've done it if he had been picked for the All-Star Game. But if not, he asked Cano if he would pick teammate Mark Trumbo, instead.
And so he did, ultimately choosing Trumbo, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.
"I told Robbie to call him, because I thought he deserved it," Pujols said. "It's great to have fresh faces in the Home Run Derby. He invited me, but I told him, 'Robbie, to be honest, if I don't get picked for the All-Star Game, I'm not going to do it, but I'd love it if you invited Trumbo,' and he told me he'd do it."
After a slow start, Pujols has pretty much been the Pujols of old for a while now, batting .325 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs over his last 42 games heading into the series opener against the Indians. But a dreadful April has given him a very un-Pujols-like .271 batting average and .789 OPS on the season, denying him a chance to play in the All-Star Game for only the third time -- and second straight season -- in his 12-year career.
This one would've been extra special, since it's taking place in Kansas City, where Pujols essentially grew up in the United States.
But Pujols can only think about those who were even more deserving and didn't make it.
"I mean, look at the season Edwin Encarnacion [of the Blue Jays] is having," Pujols said, "and not even the players selected him -- a guy who has 55 RBIs and is batting . with 22 homers. What else do you have to do to be an All-Star? And I've always said it -- when I don't deserve to go to an All-Star Game, I feel like I shouldn't go.
"I was bad in April. If I would've had a good year, or just a good April, my numbers would've been right there for the All-Star Game. But it's part of baseball. We'll wait 'til next year and try to do the best I can to be in the All-Star Game, because that's an honor, to be around so many stars. And it's very important in this game, since whoever wins gets home-field advantage for the World Series."
Trout out of starting lineup with sore right pinkie
CLEVELAND -- A sore right pinkie finger scratched Mike Trout from the top of the Angels' starting lineup on Monday, marking the first time he hasn't started since May 7 -- a stretch of 49 games.
Trout jammed the pinkie while sliding headfirst into second base with a leadoff double on Sunday. He stayed in the game, and hit a critical eighth-inning solo homer in the Angels' 10-6 win, but felt soreness while taking pregame batting practice at Progressive Field on Monday.
The 20-year-old outfielder had X-rays on the pinkie, which came back negative, and appeared as an eighth-inning pinch-runner and stayed in the game in left field in Monday's 3-0 win over the Indians.
"Usually during the game, adrenaline gets through it, doesn't give it a chance to get stiff, but overnight, it'll stiffen," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia before Monday's series opener.
Shortstop Erick Aybar took Trout's place in the leadoff spot against righty Ubaldo Jimenez, with Peter Bourjos playing center field and batting eighth.
Trout, named as a reserve for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, came into the week leading the American League in batting average (.339) and steals (22), while hitting nine homers and posting a .395 on-base percentage since his April 28 call to the big leagues -- which came after a game in Cleveland.
Prior to the game, Trout was named AL Rookie of the Month for the second straight month.
Scioscia not concerned by Walden's latest outing
CLEVELAND -- Hard-throwing right-hander Jordan Walden, who has gone from a closer to basically a mop-up guy in the Angels' bullpen this season, struggled while pitching the ninth inning of Sunday's eventual 10-6 win over the Blue Jays.
Walden checked in with a seven-run lead and seemed to have trouble commanding his fastball. He walked leadoff hitter Rajai Davis on four straight pitches, walked the weak-hitting Omar Vizquel on five pitches two batters later, and gave up a three-run homer on a 96-mph inside fastball to the next hitter, Colby Rasmus.
Walden, who has a 3.96 ERA to go along with a 1.52 WHIP and a 1.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings, also gave up the winning run in Friday's seventh inning. Since last year, his fastball velocity has decreased (from 97.5 mph to 96.6 mph) and so has his strike percentage (62 to 59), but only slightly.
"His stuff's there," manager Mike Scioscia said, "and the big picture, if you look at his last 10 outings, his stuff has been really good. He's throwing some better breaking balls. The breaking ball he threw to Jose Bautista [to strike him out Sunday] was terrific at the end. Commanding the ball was something he had some trouble with yesterday, but overall, I think he's made a lot of strides, and yesterday was just a little setback."
Albert Pujols got hit in the left shoulder by a Carlos Santana throw during a stolen-base attempt in the top of the fourth on Monday. The Angels' first baseman stayed in the game, but afterwards, manager Mike Scioscia said he was still feeling a little sore and wasn't sure if he'd be in the lineup Tuesday.
Asked about the team's involvement in the international signing period, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto remained coy, saying in a text message: "As always, we'll seek opportunities wherever they are."
Jerome Williams, on the disabled list due to a recent asthma attack, had a rough first rehab outing for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday night, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in two-plus innings and exiting after getting hit on the right forearm by a comebacker. But Scioscia said Williams only sustained a bruise, felt better after icing it and, barring anything unforeseen, should pitch again Friday.
As for his results on Sunday?
"The line score, obviously, wasn't great, which is not totally foreign for the [Pacific Coast League]," Scioscia said. "The ball was up a little bit early, but his velocity was fine and he warmed up well. He was hydrated; had no symptoms at all from what happened his last start with us."
Catcher Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) restarted his throwing program on Monday, successfully throwing from 75-80 feet. He'll do that again Tuesday and can get on a rehab assignment once he stretches it out to 200 feet and throws to bases.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.