We’ve all seen it by now. The half-hearted limps down the base line on ground balls. The perfunctory flails at pitches well out of the strike zone. The complete loss of power.
Albert Pujols is hurting, and he’s hurting badly. The plantar fasciitis induced pain in the 13 year veteran’s left foot has hamstrung the Los Angeles Angels‘ batting order and robbed them of the firepower that was supposed to be one their best assets when the former St. Louis Cardinal was signed in December 2011.
To put it in the kindest possible terms, Pujols is struggling. The man whom many once considered to be the greatest hitter of his generation is a woeful 6-49 (.122) in his last 12 games with zero home runs and just two RBI. Every hitter, even one as great as Pujols, goes through slumps, but this is different. He is unable to shift any weight from his right foot to his left, depriving his swing of the force needed to drive pitches out of the park.
Lacking bat speed, power and the ability to make plays in the field, Pujols is of very little use to the Angels in his current condition. Taking the field in pain every day is a noble gesture, but at a certain point, Mike Scioscia has to start asking himself difficult questions. Questions like, might Pujols be doing more harm than good by continuing to hit third even though he can’t produce? Might it not be more prudent to sit him for a stretch once injured center fielder Peter Bourjos returns to the lineup?
Scioscia would be understandably hesitant to force the injury with Pujols. After all, the Angels are paying the slugger $16 million this year, and that is a lot of money to be paying an inactive player.
Even so, this is no time for the Angels to get sentimental. At 41-45, they can’t be carrying dead weight if they are to seriously contend for a playoff spot. Right now, that is exactly what Pujols is.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.