Albert Pujols has to be very, very tired

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Mark Buehrle, when asked how he would pitch to Albert Pujols if he faces him tonight:

“High and inside. Hit ’em. Knock him off the plate. Hopefully he charges the mound.”

Of course he immediately backtracked, admitted he was joking and gave
all kinds of respect to Pujols. A shame, really, as I think a real war
of words and a genuine villain would make tonight a hell of a lot more
fun for everyone. Can you imagine the crowd’s reaction if someone threw
some chin music Pujols’ way at the All-Star Game? And then stood on the
mound and stared him down as he dusted himself off? Oh well, a boy can
dream, can’t he?

Of course, it may be a better move to simply challenge Albert with straight fastballs, because the guy is probably gassed at this point:

Albert and Deidre Pujols awoke early Monday morning, particularly
early given the Cardinals’ 1 a.m. return from a marathon day-night
doubleheader against the Cubs in Chicago . . . He arrived home at 2
a.m. Barely nine hours later, El Hombre walked into the downtown Hyatt
as baseball’s resident rock star, commanding a legion of media, a crush
of questions in English and Spanish and acknowledgment as unofficial
centerpiece for the Derby and tonight’s All-Star Game.

I’m pretty sure Pujols has been on every single broadcast, podcast,
cut-in, setup and photo-op originating from St. Louis since yesterday
morning. Understandable, but one wonders when, if at all, he gets a
break. More than any single player on any single team, the Cardinals
live or die with Albert Pujols’ performance. One hopes for their sake
that he can get a breather before the second half of the season starts.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.