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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Lays Out Planned Playing Time for Albert Pujols in Return to St. Louis



As Albert Pujols returns home to St. Louis for only the second time since inking a massive $240 million payday from the Angels, he does so with Dodgers across his chest. A name and team he tormented for 11 seasons as a Cardinal.

However, the now 41-year-old returns in a platoon/pinch hitting role that leaves regular playing time at a premium. Still, Dave Roberts — being the good human that he is — plans on working the future Hall of Famer into the lineup… and it’s not just for the crowd at Busch Stadium.

“He’ll play Tuesday and Thursday. And that’s to give Max [Muncy] and Corey [Seager] a day off.”

Pujols has delivered more than expected since coming to the Dodgers after being DFA’d by Anaheim. The veteran slugger has smacked 11 home runs and driven in 36 runners — including a pinch hit, 2-run homer on Sunday night — in 69 games with Los Angeles. Moreover, he’s crushed left-handed pitching, posting an OPS over .920 this season. So with the Cardinals scheduled to send lefties J.A. Happ and Kwang Hyun Kim to the mound on Tuesday and Thursday, the timing of the starts make a whole bunch of sense.

Related: Albert Pujols’ Playing Time in Jeopardy

Still, even with the loss of AJ Pollock to a hamstring strain, Pujols shouldn’t expect much more than then these spot starts off lefty hurlers, something Roberts confirmed on Sunday.

Chasing 700

Tío Albert hit career home run 678 on Sunday (5th on the all-time list), continuing his pursuit of the exclusive 700 homer club. While that number is certainly in doubt in 2021, the free-agent-to-be hasn’t mentioned any plans of retirement after the season. Despite the fact that he’ll be 42 in January of 2022, the veteran has proven that he can still get it done at the plate, even in his 21st season in the big leagues. Beyond that, he’s also proven that he brings much more to the clubhouse than veteran presence

“He has mentored everyone,” Dave Roberts said on Sunday. “And that’s myself, coaches, players — veterans, young players — and everyone’s gravitated towards him. … In a short period of time, what he’s done for the Dodgers organization will sustain itself for quite some time.”

The Dodgers send another future Hall of Famer to the mound tonight in St. Louis in Max Scherzer. The right-hander has gone 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 6 starts with Los Angeles. However, he’s coming off a hamstring issue that made him exit his last start despite throwing just 76 pitches over 6 innings.

NEXT: Dave Roberts Not Concerned with Trea Turner’s Learning Curve at Second Base

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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    • he did – He sat against lefties. and now with AJ out, CT3 moves to LF and Belli is playing everyday. no one plays D like Belli

      • Joe, at some point Roberts may have to figure out that Bellinger is so lost at the dish. that he may not be able to afford Bellinger to start against LHP. Dodgers are currently winning 5 to 0 but Bellinger is 0 for 2 looking like his usual self. He’s the weakest link in the lineup. I would have thought that with the resources Dodgers have someone can be in the OF when Dodgers face these 2 LHP this week. Bellinger’s defense really doesn’t justify him being in there every day. I can bet most here would agree with me.

        • I haven’t given up on Beli’s bat. The first issue with him is crystal clear, but improving: Swinging at pitches outside the box…. Just way too much there. Once he stops chasing and remasters the strike zone, that will help a ton. The other issue is timing which might be a product of his shoulder injury and the strength he is trying to build to get to the ball. His swing is long so I see a problem that will be fixed, he just needs time to get back to MVP form. As for defense, second fastest maybe first on the team. And one of the best in the league at tracking. Can’t say we have anyone on the bench with that kind of talent. Patience.

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