09/20/12 2:11 AM ET
Pujols returns after missing game to be with family
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
It wound up being a lot less stressful than it could've been.
The baby was supposed to be born on Oct. 3. And, depending on what happens these next couple of weeks, that could've been right around the time the Angels were getting ready to start the playoffs.
"Yeah, but she popped out early," Pujols said, drawing a laugh from a scrum of reporters. "I guess whenever they want to come out, they come out. Right after that Saturday game, [Deidre] didn't feel too good, and we drove to the hospital and ended up staying overnight.
"It's kind of good that it happened now. It probably would have been more stressful if we were in the middle of the playoffs and I had to miss a playoff game. Right now, I'm glad I just missed a game and I'm glad everything went well."
Pujols was back in the starting lineup against the Rangers on Wednesday, as expected, and said the pregnancy went perfectly well.
On Sunday, at 3:30 a.m. CT, Deidre gave birth to Esther Grace in Kansas City, where Deidre's parents live and where the Angels were playing. A sleepless Pujols then played in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium, but he had to miss Tuesday's 11-3 win -- which followed Monday's off-day -- because babies born a few weeks early are forced to stay in the hospital an extra day, as a precaution.
"That's the whole reason I wasn't here yesterday, because I had to wait until Tuesday to drive them back home," Pujols said. "My plan was to go Monday in the afternoon and catch a flight Tuesday morning and be here yesterday for the game, but you can't plan ahead of time because you don't know how things are going to work."
Pujols watched Tuesday's game on television in his wife's hospital room, but by the seventh inning -- when the Angels sported a 10-3 lead -- he was knocked out.
Pujols, as you might expect, hasn't had much sleep these days.
"It's different," he said of watching his team play without him. "Even my wife was telling me, 'Man, that feels weird.' Obviously I wasn't here, but my ballclub was playing. I wish I was here, but you know what, it wasn't something I could control. I had to attend to my family first and make sure everything was good so I can refocus and finish strong the next couple of weeks."
Trout, Miggy MVP debate is heating up
ANAHEIM -- The American League Most Valuable Player debate sure is getting interesting.
In some ways, the decision between Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Angels center fielder Mike Trout seems like a tussle over old- and new-school philosophies.
With two weeks of regular-season baseball left, Cabrera has a very legitimate chance at the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. He came into Wednesday leading the American League with a .333 batting average and 129 RBIs, then hit his 41st homer against the A's, putting him one away from leader Josh Hamilton in that department.
Trout leads in runs (118) and stolen bases (46), ranks second in batting average (.327) and has hit 27 homers. But it's the sabermetric components that really set him apart. Like his defense at a premium position, or his seismic lead in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) -- Trout is at 10.3, with the second-place Robinson Cano at 6.6.
Cabrera can't help but admire Trout from afar.
"He's amazing, man," Cabrera said. "You need to give some credit to him. At that age, what he's done is very amazing. That's why everybody talks about him. That's unbelievable, man. There's nothing we can do, him and me. We've both got a great year. We can't control that. We go out there and play hard, win some games. He's focused on winning some games with Anaheim. I'm focused on winning some games here in Detroit. We'll let you guys decide what's gonna happen."
For a while, it seemed like Trout would run away with the hardware, thus becoming the youngest MVP in baseball history. But the 21-year-old phenom has tread water recently, posting a .274/.375/.403 slash line this month. Cabrera, meanwhile, came into Wednesday with a September slash line of .373/.426/.797.
Trout says he wouldn't be too disappointed if the MVP didn't end up in his hands.
"I mean, your goal, when you come here, you want to be the best player in the league, obviously, and he's having a great year, too," Trout said Wednesday. "But first on the list is getting to the playoffs. All the other stuff can wait until after the season."
Trout claims he isn't getting caught up in any scoreboard watching for the AL MVP -- "Oh, no, no, I don't pay attention to that stuff," he added -- but Jim Leyland apparently is. And the Tigers' skipper recently said he would be "shocked" if Cabrera didn't win the MVP.
"It would blow my mind," Leyland added.
Mike Scioscia's opinions aren't as strong. The Angels' manager says he gives significant weight to the player who helps his team reach the playoffs -- granted, it's very possible neither of these two do that -- but believes the competition between Cabrera and Trout will come down to what voters value most.
"The guys who are voting, sometimes the beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Scioscia said. "Some guys are going to put more weight on how a team finishes. Some guys are going to put more weight on just pure stats. Some guys are going to have a combination of those. They're both putting up extraordinary numbers in some different areas. As far as if you look at Mike's full body of work, there's no doubt that it compares to what Miguel Cabrera is doing. It's going to be interesting to see how it works out."
Trumbo feeling more comfortable at plate
ANAHEIM -- Angels slugger Mark Trumbo, relegated to the No. 8 spot due to his second-half slump, hasn't really seen the results yet, but he believes the last few games feel "more like my swing" at the plate.
These days, it's all about keeping things as simple as possible for Trumbo, who came into Wednesday with a .198/.250/.294 slash line over his last 51 games.
"If I'm anticipating a pitch, if I'm looking at a zone, I need to put that ball in play, and that's kind of my main focus right now," Trumbo said. "It's tough for a power hitter. You're expected to drive the ball, but sometimes you need to go all the way back and more or less start putting it in play a little more, and build back up to what you think you're capable of."
With a leadoff single on Wednesday, Mike Trout notched 284 total bases this season to set an Angels rookie record. The previous mark of 283 was set by Devon White in 1987.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that Ervin Santana will start Friday against the White Sox on eight days' rest, and will be followed by Dan Haren and Jered Weaver.
On Thursday, immediately following the Angels Live postgame coverage on FOX Sports West, "Angels Insider" will recap the Albert Pujols Celebrity Golf Classic.
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.