History Repeating Itself?
Albert Pujols is hitting just .217 without a home run. But last season he hit under .200 in the first six games as the Cardinals started 2-4. He finished at .299 and the Cards won the World Series.
“To tell you the truth, no disrespecting the history of this organization, the Yankees, I take it like every other park. Getting here early, watching my video, getting prepared in the cage, at the end it’s just a game,” Pujols said Friday morning before the game. “Nothing changes. Maybe the fans are louder but everything else is the same.
“The game doesn’t change because you play in Yankee Stadium. The rules are the same, you just need to get yourself out there and prepare yourself for the game,” he said.
The Angels’ new slugger will be playing his first game at the new Yankee Stadium when the two teams tangle on Friday. Pujols played just three regular-season games at the old stadium in 2003 with the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the 2008 All-Star Game. But he will be making many trips to the new park after signing a 10-year deal with the Angels in the offseason.
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“Obviously you know the history and I’ve been here in this city before and at the old ballpark there were many, many histories and the new ones,” Pujols said. “To me, it’s nothing different than any other ballpark and no disrespect to the history.”
Pujols, arguably the best hitter in baseball, is off to a slow start with his new team, batting just .217 with two RBIs and no home runs. The Angels, one of the preseason favorites to win the World Series, have mirrored their new slugger’s early struggles with a 2-4 start.
Pujols, who spent a brief period of time living in New York and still has a picture from his arrival in the Big Apple as a youngster, admits he’s been trying to do too much at the plate and is hopeful that things turn around soon for him. He stressed several times that he’s also focused on helping his team win, not his personal statistics.
The game doesn’t change because you play in Yankee Stadium. The rules are the same, you just need to get yourself out there and prepare yourself for the game.
— Albert Pujols
“It’s just six games, guys. We still have 156 games to go and it’s a long season, maybe if I were hitting .500 in six games we wouldn’t talk about the struggles,” Pujols said. “It’s six games. I went through this last year, my numbers at the end, probably a lot of people were saying it wasn’t my numbers, but at the end we were able to accomplish the World Series and that’s we play for.”
While Pujols will be facing the Yankees for just the third time in his career, New York’s starting pitcher on Friday, former Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, is a familiar foe. Pujols is 3-for-15 lifetime against Kuroda with one home run and four strikeouts.
“He’s a great pitcher,” Pujols said. “I’ve faced him many, many times in the National League and he’s a great competitor out there. He mixes his pitches, he has his offspeed, in and out, he has a real good splitter that has a very good bite to it.”
Matt Ehalt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
Pujols: Yanks’ home opener just another game
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