03/14/12 7:53 PM ET
Santana day to day with right shoulder bruise
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Pujols clubs first two homers in Angels uniform
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- That loud cracking sound heard throughout the Valley of the Sun on Wednesday afternoon was Albert Pujols announcing his official arrival as the Angels' new slugger.Pujols hit his first two homers under the Angels' halo with a three-run shot in the third inning and a solo blast to dead center in the fifth inning of a game against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Of course, the veteran superstar knows as well as anyone that home runs in Spring Training don't count, but it was still a nice sight for Angels fans to see No. 5 trotting around the bases -- twice. "Whenever it counts, whenever you see it on the baseball card, you worry about it," Pujols said. "Here, you could hit .500 and you're never going to see it.
"It's good for yourself after all the hard work, but at the end you're concentrating on getting your at-bats -- see the ball, track the ball and try to put a good swing on it, and try to feel good at the plate."Apparently, Pujols feels just fine at the plate. The Angels dugout and the team's skipper certainly took notice of Pujols' big day, and they're becoming accustomed to seeing the stroke that has launched 445 homers in 11 Major League seasons on an everyday basis. "We hope we're going to see that often this year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Pujols' two-homer day. "It's great to see him swinging and getting comfortable in the box. I think he felt good after the second home run, because he's starting to find a little timing." In his first Spring Training with the Angels after signing a 10-year, $240 million contract in December, Pujols is now batting .500 (8-for-16) with a 1.063 slugging percentage bolstered by those two homers and three doubles in his first seven games. That's a lot of power early in spring, even if it's only in exhibitions. "I don't really look for that," Pujols said. "I try to just put a good swing on it all the time. I'm not sitting out there trying to hit the ball out of the park. I'm just trying to hit the ball back to the middle and let the ball get deep and try to make good swings every day." With a blast that went high into the Arizona sky, Pujols hit his first homer in an Angels uniform off White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who had hit Pujols with a pitch in the first inning. Pujols connected on his debut dinger with one out in the third, sending the ball high and deep to left field into a pavilion of umbrellas and tables, driving home Erick Aybar and Howard Kendrick. In his next at-bat, meeting right-hander Anthony Carter, Pujols crushed a ball beyond the fence to the left of the 410-foot sign, bouncing the ball off a camera stand. Sure, it's about getting your work done. But put it this way: Pujols had a couple of nice opportunities to work on his home run trot Wednesday. "Obviously, you want to have a good spring so you can take it into the season," Pujols said. "But the main thing is to stay healthy and do your work. Whether you hit .500 or hit .200, as long as you're ready to go Opening Day and you feel good with your swing, that's what you're looking for." Pujols' first shot gave the Angels a 4-2 lead one inning after starter Ervin Santana was struck in the right shoulder with a line drive and had to exit the game. The second one gave the Angels a 7-2 advantage in a game they lost, 9-7. But, then, wins and losses count about as much as homers in Spring Training. What's important to the Angels and Pujols is that it's looking like his new environment is suiting him well. "Albert's definitely getting more comfortable as he gets some at-bats this Spring Training, and he was on pitches today, that's for sure," Scioscia said.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.