With the regular season now less than two weeks away, Pujols is beginning to swing a hot bat in the last two games this spring training. On Wednesday, the 34-year-old hit his first home run of spring training in the first inning of the Halos’ eventual 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. In Tuesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and one RBI.
His two latest performances have pushed his spring training numbers to a respectable .297 batting average with one home run and six RBI in 14 games played. Despite his low production over the past couple of weeks, the nine-time All-Star is picking up steam at the right time as he can use the last week and a half of this month to carry the momentum into this upcoming season.
This is highly important for Pujols as he has failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by the 10-year, $254 million contract he signed with the Angels in December of 2011. In his first season with his new team, the former three-time NL MVP struggled as he hit .217 with zero home runs and four RBIs in the first month of the season and did not belt his first home run until the 33rd game of that year. However, he would finish the season with his typical numbers as he had his 11th 30-plus home run and 100-plus RBI season in his career.
In 2013, Pujols was on pace for a down year in his overall production across the board offensively before he suffered a torn fascia in his left foot in late July that abruptly ended his season. The injury forced Pujols to finish with a career-worst triple slash of .258/.330/.437 to go along with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs. It also marked the first time in his 13-year career that he had less than 30 home runs and the second time that he had less than 100 RBIs.
Although he did not have a chance to improve his statistics by finishing out the last two months of the season strong, it was nonetheless another year where Pujols did not meet his high expectations. So with that said, all of this only adds on to the importance of this upcoming season for the 34-year-old as he looks to prove that he is fully healed from his injury and ready to produce at the high level that helped him earn his lucrative contract with the Halos.
Pujols has a lot riding on this upcoming season, and he appears to be prepared for the task at hand.