Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
With the Los Angeles Dodgers in need of some balance and production on their bench, they signed Albert Pujols after he was released by the L.A. Angels. Now after 21 seasons, the future Hall of Famer appears primed to keep the machine running.
Last offseason, Pujols’ wife suggested he would be retiring after the 2021 campaign, but later clarified that she wasn’t announcing as much. Retiring would have made sense as it was the final season left on Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Angels in 2011.
When asked about his future at various points throughout the year, Pujols continued to state he would make a decision once it was time to do so.
Now just 21 homers short of 700 for his career, Pujols is playing in the Dominican Winter League and it is considered a sign he will continue in the Majors next year as well, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
Albert Pujols will be playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic for the first time in his career, which is a sign that he “for sure” would like to play in the majors in 2022, said a source close to Pujols.
Pujols is a free agent this offseason, so he could decide he wants to chase another ring or a more locked-in role to chase 700 homers. Whatever he decides, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is confident Pujols will do it well.
“I think Albert can do whatever he wants to do and if he wants to play next year he’s certainly going to be a really good contributor to whatever ballclub,” Roberts recently said about the potential of Pujols playing next season.
“You learn not to bet against Hall of Fame ballplayers because they understand what it takes to have success and they understand how their bodies, skillset might have changed or diminished a little bit because of age, which that happens to everyone, but how to still be productive and he’s a winning baseball player and he’s been huge for us.”
Pujols approaches every game like it’s his last
With Pujols nearing the end of his career, there is a chance the 2021 postseason could have been the last time he was part of October baseball.
“You know, the thing is, whether I’m in the postseason or in the regular season, I think for me I learned from probably one of the best managers that I ever played for, Tony La Russa. I don’t take anything for granted,” Pujols said after Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
“I take my at-bats, I take my game like it’s my last game of my career. That was since Day 1 when I got the opportunity to wear a uniform with the Cardinals in 2001.
“I think I can see the same attitude of these guys every day. They go out there, whether it’s in the regular season, whether it’s in the postseason, they don’t take anything for granted. We take every at-bat, every pitch, every play like it’s our last play, and I think that’s why you have success. So for myself, that’s something that I learned early in my career.
“I had the success that I had in the postseason and early in my career because that’s how I go about it. I don’t take anything for granted every day-in and day-out. Now in a different situation, I’m not in the lineup every day, but I am looking and smelling and seeing when my opportunity is going to call up and be ready to go.”
Although Pujols treats the games like any other,he was still grateful for the opportunity after only making the playoffs one time with the Angels over the nine seasons he spent there.
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