pujols getty presser

Pujols addresses Cardinals fans: “I respect them”

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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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.