Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Albert Pujols filled a key role off the bench for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season but now is heading back to his original team after signing a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The future Hall of Famer’s career is coming full circle as he spent his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He emerged as one of the league’s most feared hitters during his first stint with the organization, batting .328/.420/.617 with 445 home runs in 1,705 games.
There had been speculation of Pujols wanting to rejoin the Cardinals in free agency as it would give him an opportunity to finish his career with the team he starred for from 2001-11. Shortly after his contract was finalized, Pujols confirmed he will retire after the 2022 season.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will miss having Pujols around but believes it is fitting he gets to retire with the Cardinals, via Scott Miller of the New York Times:
— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) March 28, 2022
Pujols returning to the Cardinals coincides with longtime catcher Yadier Molina also planning to retire after the 2022 season. And while he hasn’t said so definitively, the upcoming campaign could very well be Adam Wainwright’s last on the mound as well.
Pujols was re-introduced to Cardinals fans, players and coaches between the first and second innings of a game against the Houston Astros on Monday, when he emerged from beyond the right-field wall at Roger Dean Stadium.
Pujols will likely continue to serve as a bench bat and potential designated hitter option for the Cardinals as he chases 700 career home runs. The 42-year-old hit .254/.299/.460 with three doubles, 12 home runs, and 38 RBI over 85 games for the Dodgers last season.
Muncy was open to Dodgers re-signing Pujols
Pujols was a welcomed presence in the Dodgers clubhouse and regularly received praise from Roberts and several players for a willingness to mentor others.
Max Muncy was among those who quickly gravitated toward Pujols and recently said he would have been welcomed back to the Dodgers with open arms.
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