Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/17/12
ANAHEIM, Calif. It shouldn't be news when Albert Pujols hits a home run, but given Pujols' languid season and the circumstances of the past two days, it's worth taking notice when he does. The shot he hit Wednesday night in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox soared into the night and landed over the fence in left-center field at Angel Stadium. You figured by this time Pujols would have hit many more like that, but in fact it was only his second home run of the season and his first since May 6. Pujols hasn't exactly put his troubles behind him, but he's got his average up to .213, and his 17 RBIs now lead the Angels, who beat the White Sox 7-2. "It feels good any time you hit a ball like that," Pujols said. "It's been a while. In that situation, you don't try to do too much. You just stick with your approach, and that's what I did." It's tempting to say that Pujols is beginning to drive the ball better, but his stroke is still not where it should be. He popped up in two other at-bats and struck out in another, so he's still probably not satisfied with his results. But perhaps he's getting there. "It was good that he got a pitch middle in and stayed inside a little bit better and drove it out to left-center," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Albert's got a special presence in the batter's box, and when he's on, he's the type of guy that will carry you for a long time. Hopefully he's starting to get a little frisky and getting into that zone." Before the game, Pujols declined to address the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, Pujols had been visibly perturbed that Hatcher revealed some innocuous comments made by the Angels first baseman during a hitters' meeting. After Wednesday's game, Pujols balked at discussing Hatcher again, then finally said, "One thing I can say is that I have a lot of respect for Mickey. He never took his job for granted. He was a guy that was always positive, even though we were going through some struggles, and that was something that I always admired. He was in the cage every day to try to get you going. It's a tough situation." General manager Jerry Dipoto, asked if the Pujols-Hatcher issue played a part in Hatcher's firing, answered with a terse, "No." Even though Pujols is still in search of his stroke, he's driving in runs five in two games and 12 in his past 10 games. Is he feeling close to getting locked in? "There are some times I feel good at the plate and hit some hard balls, but you just don't catch any breaks," he said. "There's other times you feel lost out there and try to do too much. Every at-bat, no matter how I feel, I try to take it like it's my last at-bat of my career. I don't take this game for granted." He knows his teammates are waiting for him to begin thriving on pitchers as he had in the past. When he starts hitting, he can be a catalyst for an Angels revival. He knows it, too. "I'm one of the leaders here in this clubhouse, and even though I'm only here for two months, everybody is looking up to me and seeing how I handle things," he said. "I'm here for a reason. "Obviously, you wish things would've been better, but at the end, we're winning some games and coming through with some big hits and everybody is contributing."
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