When the Dodgers announced the signing of recently released Albert Pujols to a major league deal in May, to say it was a head-scratcher would be an understatement. But now three months later, it’s honestly hard to think of this team without its beloved tío.
Chatting with Rich Eisen this week, Dodger third baseman and clubhouse leader Justin Turner talked about the addition of Pujols to an already high quality clubhouse chemistry.
“I’ve been lucky enough to know Albert over the last four-five years with our foundations and teaming up … you know he’s a great guy off the field. But getting to know him in the clubhouse and getting to see him go about his work every day, he’s one of the first guys to the field every single day at home or on the road. …
Just hearing his positive reinforcement all the time with all the guys and younger guys. You know, he’s in a role that he’s not used to being in. He’s used to playing every day and getting his at-bats and he came over here and was asked to be OK with a reduced role … and he’s embraced it and he’s been one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
A veteran of 21 MLB seasons and no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer, Pujols has his name etched amongst the best to ever play the game of baseball. So it’s easy to imagine a guy with the resume of Albert coming over to a new team and phoning it in while letting the back of his baseball card do the talking for him. Instead, he learned something new to excel at in his illustrious career.
Those Hall of Fame hugs.
“It’s unbelievable how much fun he has and how much he still enjoys the game,” JT said.” “And you can see it when a guy hits a homer and he’s standing at the end of the dugout with that huge smile waiting to give you the biggest bear hug — and readjust your back with how hard he squeezes you with that hug.”
Albert hasn’t been all hugs and stories, however, the veteran is getting it done in Dodger blue. In 63 games with LA this season, the 41-year-old is hitting .266 — .305 against left-handed pitching — with 10 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Moreover, his .309 average with runners in scoring position is among the best on the team. Plus, he’s chipped in 9 pinch hits along the way.
You favorite player’s favorite player, ladies and gentlemen. Albert Pujols.