Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Albert Pujols signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers after unexpectedly getting released by the Los Angeles Angels last season appeared to be somewhat of an awkward fit on paper. However, the Future Hall of Famer embraced a role off the bench and consistently raved about the organization.
Back at Dodger Stadium during the regular season for the first time since signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols reflected fondly on his experience with the Dodgers. “I was so grateful and thankful for the opportunity to play with that organization last year,” he said.
“They brought me so much joy and welcomed me. It was pretty special.”
Pujols interacted with former Dodgers teammates, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts during batting practice.
They then were mentioned as having played a significant role in Pujols hitting 700 home runs. He joined the exclusive club behind a fourth multi-homer game this season.
“I think when you have an organization that has your back, which the Dodgers did give me that opportunity and believe in me, knowing I was able to help the organization a lot last year with the role I was given. It opened the door for me to have the Cardinals going after me,” Pujols said, surrounded by his children.
“I was talking to Friedman and Doc in batting practice, if they wouldn’t have given me that opportunity, I don’t think I would be sitting here today. Because of that and the way they respected me, the whole coaching staff, whole organization from the owner all the way down, it was pretty amazing moment. It allowed me to really find that joy in this game.
“What a special night. First of all, to have my family in town and be able to do it here at Dodger Stadium, where I said it earlier, my joy pretty much came back last year being in the postseason and the clubhouse a few feet away from here. It’s pretty special.
“Especially with the Dodger fans, so they get to enjoy this, and to do it in a Cardinals uniform, it’s special. Just pretty awesome. I was thanking God while I was running around the bases for allowing me to do this, especially with my family around.”
Phil Bickford, Albert Pujols tied in MLB history
Pujols’ 699th home run came against former teammate Andrew Heaney in the third inning. Phil Bickford then replaced Heaney when Pujols came up to bat in the fourth inning with two on and two outs. The Dodgers’ reliever became just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to allow a 700th home run to a batter.
“I’m just going to tell him, ‘Thank you for hanging that slider,’” Pujols quipped, before again heaping more praise on the Dodgers organization for reinvigorating the final chapter of his career.
“All those young guys last year, I started a new family over there. Going from the Cardinals, Angels and then here, I knew some of those guys, but that time that I spent there, you get to know them and build good relationships. A really, really great group of guys. I didn’t come here to try to change their clubhouse or anything like that.
“I was having a great time and enjoying the Dodgers believing in me to give me another opportunity. My job, whenever I was in the lineup, was to just try to help the ballclub win. And whenever I wasn’t in the lineup, it was chat with the young guys.
“He was one of the young guys I chatted with a lot last year. And Julio (Urías), (Gavin) Lux, (Cody) Bellinger, a bunch of those guys.”
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