Albert Pujols starting at first base tonight for the first time since August 22

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After serving as the designated hitter for the past 16 games, Albert Pujols is back at first base for tonight’s game against the Royals. Pujols hasn’t started at first base since he injured his right calf while running the bases on August 22, but he’s feeling much better now.

While the Angels have played things safe with their $240 million investment over the past three weeks, the calf hasn’t had a huge impact on Pujols’ production. The 32-year-old is hitting .303/.343/.515 with two homers, eight doubles, 10 RBI and an .858 OPS in 70 plate appearances since returning to the lineup on August 26. He is batting .286/.344/.531 with 30 homers, 96 RBI and an .875 OPS on the year.

With Pujols back at first base tonight, the struggling Mark Trumbo will slide into the DH spot while Vernon Wells will start in left field. The Angels open play tonight at 78-66 on the year, 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West and 3 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.