Albert Pujols is able to run the bases on his own now

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FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi explains it all:

Albert Pujols is back on the bases.

Pujols, who underwent offseason right knee surgery, played in only his fourth Cactus League game Wednesday against the San Diego Padres. But it represented a landmark of sorts: Pujols ran the bases for the first time, rather than exiting for a designated runner, as had been the arrangement for his first three games.

Pujols had that knee procedure in mid-October after posting the worst OPS (.859) and OPS+ (141) of his career in 2012. He is fully expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, but you’ll probably see him at DH much more regularly in 2013. Pujols, 33, is still owed $228 million from the Angels (if you include the 10-year, $10 million personal services contract that will click in after he officially hangs up his cleats).

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.