Albert Pujols was introduced at an outdoor press conference Saturday in Anaheim, California attended by over 4,000 fans — a pep rally, basically.
So when he was asked by multiple reporters to discuss his feelings about heart-broken St. Louisans, the questions drew loud boos and he deflected ’em.
A bit later in the day, Pujols took more questions from the media in an area within the Angel Stadium walls. And he probably felt more comfortable giving honest — or at least more thoughtful — answers.
Here’s how he responded when probed about what he might say to Cardinals fans who were hurt by his decision to depart for a 10-year, $254 million contract (via MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez):
“You know what, it was hard for me, too,” said Pujols. “It’s been hard for almost a year. Obviously, you don’t want to blame anything because I’m a guy that I don’t look for blame, how my first two months of the season were. But, you know, it was hard, and it was emotional, and obviously you’re going to have some people and friends and family that are agreeing with you, and fans, and you’re going to have other people that don’t like it. And you know what, at the end, you know what, that you can’t control. But what I want the fans to know is, I love them, I respect how they treated my family, I respect the support that they have given me for 11 years, and I thank them for helping me be the man that I am today, because if it wouldn’t be for that city, I wouldn’t be here today.”
That’s hardly going to soothe all the aches and pains of Cardinals fans, but it’s probably the most genuine answer he’s given on the topic to date. That newspaper ad read like it was written by a lawyer.