Angels undecided on where Albert Pujols will bat in lineup

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Albert Pujols had 7,433 plate appearances for the Cardinals and 82.6 percent of those came as a No. 3 hitter, but the Angels aren’t certain yet where he’ll bat in their lineup.

Mike Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he’s leaning toward keeping Pujols in the No. 3 spot, in part because it guarantees he’ll bat in the first inning of every game and in part because he’ll get more plate appearances than he would batting cleanup.

Under what circumstances would he bat Pujols fourth?

If there’s issues with our [No. 9 hitter] not being productive, our 1 and 2 guys struggling a bit, there’s definitely a look that we’re going to have that might put [high on-base guys] 1-2-3 with Albert hitting fourth. That’s a possibility. It’s not our preference. But you have to consider it.

Various batting order analysis has shown that you want a hitter like Pujols batting third instead of fourth, and in fact based on statistical analysis alone there’s a strong argument for the best hitter on a team batting second. It all depends on the rest of the lineup options, of course, but sticking with Pujols as a No. 3 hitter makes the most sense, presumably with Erick Aybar and Bobby Abreu in front of him.

Report: Chris Tillman will decide on a team this week

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Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.

Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.

While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.