4/27/2014 8:33 P.M. ET
Pujols: Too soon to talk about Home Run Derby
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Albert Pujols' oldest son, A.J., was with him during the weekend series at Yankee Stadium, and he had a special request on Sunday.
"He told me this morning, 'Daddy, I want you to do the Home Run Derby this year,'" Pujols relayed.
"I'm like, 'I don't know,'" Pujols said with a big smile.
"It's too early for me to talk about that. I have to make the All-Star Game first. It's been four years since I made it."
Home Run Derby participants don't have to make the All-Star team, but Pujols has always said he'd never participate if he wasn't chosen as an All-Star.
His .299 batting average, .358 on-base percentage and .639 slugging percentage -- tops in the American League heading into Sunday's series finale against the Yankees -- give him a good chance to make the AL All-Star team for the first time since 2010 if he stays healthy. And his nine homers, one shy of White Sox rookie Jose Abreu for the Major League lead, would make him a logical choice for the Home Run Derby.
And Pujols doesn't buy the notion that taking part in it can ruin your swing for the second half.
"It doesn't," he said. "You get a little sore, for sure, in your ribs. But besides that, it didn't affect my swing. I took it like regular BP."
Pujols finished second to then-Angels outfielder Garret Anderson in the 2003 Home Run Derby, then batted .331/.416/.623 in the second half. He finished fourth in '07, when then-Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero won it, and then batted .349/.450/.631 in the second half. He finished fourth in '09, four spots behind Prince Fielder, and hit .322/.427/.582 in the second half.
The 2014 Home Run Derby will take part Monday, July 14, from Target Field in Minneapolis, the day before the 85th All-Star Game. Captains typically aren't named until June.
"I think it's fun," Pujols said of the competition. "It's awesome. For guys that haven't done it, I encourage them to do it at least once. It's awesome. It's a good time. And you put on a good show for the fans. That's what you do it for."
Trout has long admired Jeter, on and off field
NEW YORK -- Mike Trout grew up in South New Jersey wanting to be a shortstop, a position he played until his senior year of high school, and he idolized Derek Jeter.
Now here he is, in the visiting clubhouse of Yankee Stadium as Jeter, 39, plays in his final season.
"It's tough," Trout said. "It's been fun to watch him play. I'm always following him. But I think he's going out at the right time. I'm sure he could play another five years or whatever, but he made that decision, and everybody's going to respect it, for sure."
Trout and Jeter bonded a little at the 2012 All-Star Game, and the Angels' center fielder got a jersey and a ball signed by Jeter when he visited the Bronx last season. Asked what sticks out most about Jeter's career, Trout said: "He's a winner; a leader on and off the field, staying out of trouble. He's every kid's role model."
Halos reliever Smith won't treat ninth differently
NEW YORK -- Joe Smith, the sidearm right-hander obtained on a three-year, $15.75 million contract last offseason, has never really been a closer, per se. He has three career saves in 450 appearances, all last season, but they came as a temporary necessity, not necessarily a promotion.
Some believe nothing compares to the pressure of the ninth inning.
"I don't know, man, I don't buy into that," he said. "For me, it's just go up there and put up zeros. I'm going to pitch the exact same way. Obviously, if you blow the lead, you lose. I get that part of it. But I've blown plenty of games in my career, any inning. Either way, it [stinks]. So I don't put too much thought into it. My goal is to go out there, put up a zero, and get off the field as quickly as I can."
Smith was named the closer on Friday, one game removed from Ernesto Frieri's ninth-inning meltdown in Washington. The move is expected to be temporary, until Frieri regains his confidence and finds his release point. But there's also a chance Smith -- with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 224 appearances since 2011 -- takes the promotion and runs with it.
"Obviously, everybody in the bullpen wants to be the closer," Smith said. "But I would've much rather have had it happen in a different scenario than something like this, because for us to be good, we need Ernie."
Angels add righty prospect Morin to bullpen
NEW YORK -- In need of an extra arm one night after a taxing day for the bullpen, one that doesn't necessarily deploy a long reliever, the Angels gave Mike Morin his first crack at the big leagues on Sunday, calling the 22-year-old right-hander up from Triple-A Salt Lake and optioning outfielder Brennan Boesch.
To make room for Morin on the 40-man roster, the Angels designated lefty Michael Roth for assignment. Roth, 24, was the second member of the 2012 Draft class to make his Major League debut, posting a 7.20 ERA in 20 innings last year, but was 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in four starts at Double-A Arkansas this season.
The Angels now have eight relievers and only three reserves.
"If everyone gets a role and contributes, you don't know how long that will last," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Right now, it's something that can help us."
The Angels used four relievers to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Saturday's 4-3 loss and don't have a traditional swing man, though Yoslan Herrera and Fernando Salas are capable of pitching more than one inning if needed, as is Morin.
"Without a true long man, sometimes you have to do it with numbers," Scioscia said. "We want to be prepared in case someone has a short start or games go into extra innings."
Morin was taken out of the University of North Carolina in the 13th round in 2012, and boasts a plus changeup. He was the Angels' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, with a 1.93 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a 7.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Class A Advanced Inland Empire and Arkansas.
Morin -- ranked 10th in the Angels' system by MLB.com -- started 2014 with five consecutive scoreless outings, then earned a promotion to Triple-A and gave up five runs (four earned) in his first three innings in the Pacific Coast League.
"Morin has really come on in the last couple years," Scioscia said. "He has great makeup. He'll be ready for the opportunity."
• Abreu leads the Majors with 10 homers and has set a rookie record for RBIs in April with 31, passing Albert Pujols. Abreu credited Pujols for giving him sound advice during Spring Training, and Pujols told his teammates earlier this season that Abreu is his pick to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
• David Freese started at designated hitter on Sunday, with Ian Stewart getting the nod at third base, and the left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez sitting against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Scioscia said Ibanez was "a little under the weather, not feeling well."
• Infielder Grant Green has played a game in left field at Salt Lake and is expected to get more time there in the future "to get some versatility," Scioscia said. Green spent a good chunk of the 2011 and '12 seasons playing center field and left field in the A's system.
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.