Pujols pushing himself in spring training

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 02, 2012
Albert Pujols shows up early and stays late, pushing himself to get everything out of his workday with the Anaheim Angels. ''This is my job,'' Pujols said Friday. ''You have to take your job seriously.'' He makes it look easy in part because he works so hard. ''He's showing not only that he's a great talent, but why he's so good,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He works hard at everything. I think a guy with his talent, they have the talent, but there's a reason they play to such a high level. It doesn't surprise us that he works this hard.'' Pujols pulled into the nearly empty parking lot at Tempe Diablo Stadium at sunrise, and quickly made his way to the weight room. After a team meeting, he took the field for practice, including a line-drive filled hitting session into a stiff north wind that threatened to rip an American flag off a pole high on the jagged butte behind the right-field fence. Not done, he jogged to the indoor cages to swing some more. ''It's part of my routine that I've been doing for 14 years as a professional,'' the 32-year-old slugger said. ''Obviously, some days I do a little more.'' He started hitting in December, swinging four times a week - down from the six times a week he used to hit. ''All the hard work has been paying off,'' Pujols said in an understatement, considering his .328 career batting average, 445 home runs and 1,329 RBIs - and the 10-year, $240 million deal that the Angels gave him to leave the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is looking forward to playing a lot in the spring. ''It's part of getting yourself ready for the season,'' he said. ''There's 30 games and they can fly by easy. I prefer to get myself ready and not get backed up, rather than try to rush at the end when we break camp and create bad habits.'' The Angels will play a four-inning intrasquad game Saturday, then open exhibition play Monday against Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. With all the Cactus League teams in the Phoenix area, spring training in Arizona is a lot more convenient than it was in Florida with the Cardinals, though Pujols said he never had a problem with long bus rides as long as there was a game to play. ''Obviously, everybody knows the road trips are really shorter, but that doesn't mean anything,'' Pujols said. ''If I have to go five hours, I have to go because that's going to get me ready for the season. I never had any problems making those trips because that's what's going to get you prepared for the season.'' That said, teammate Torii Hunter knows the short trips are a big advantage, especially for older players. ''It's way easier here,'' Hunter said. ''Talk about bus rides. In Florida, you're getting up at 6 o'clock and your bus ride is at 6:45 a.m. You're on the bus for two hours, get off and try to get loose and try to take batting practice. It was tough on the body. We had a lot of guys with bad legs in the Grapefruit League.'' Pujols has a spot between Hunter and Bobby Abreu in the clubhouse. ''He's fitting in just fine,'' Hunter said. ''Everybody here - Bobby, Vernon Wells - is making it easy for him. We have a lot of fun over here. We don't have big-league attitudes. We're laid back and we're making him feel comfortable.'' Pujols is trying to not get too comfortable or look too far ahead. ''We look good on paper and when he look at ourselves, but we still have to take care of business and go out there prepare ourself for the season,'' he said. ''It'll start with the game on Monday. We take those game seriously. You don't want to take a bad habit into the season. I think everybody here knows what their jobs is. ''It's about team chemistry. It isn't about one player.'' But the focus is all on the $240 million man. ''Everybody here knows what I can do and, if I'm healthy, I'm going to try to do that,'' Pujols said. ''I don't know what kind of numbers I can put up this year because I don't get caught up in numbers, but I can tell you I'm going to give 110 percent for sure every day to help this organization to win. That, for sure, I can promise you. ... All I can do is go out there and get myself ready every day.'' NOTES: Scioscia favors expanding the playoffs by adding a second wild-card team in each league. ''I'm excited because I think it leans more heavily on the integrity of the season than the other system,'' Scioscia said. ''But, sometimes you only find that out when you put something in. Hopefully, it's going to be a positive move.'' ... Abreu requested a trade in February and wants to play five or six exhibition games a week, something Scioscia thinks will happen. ''We're going to have a lot of at-bats for guys,'' Scioscia said. ''We have a lot of split squads and `B' games. I think Bobby understands the last couple of years haven't been what he wanted them to be. He wants to play. He wants to show he can play.'' ... Scioscia lost 38 pounds during the offseason.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message


Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker