Albert Pujols is finally feeling good (and hitting)

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Between his poor production at the plate and labored running on the bases it’s been painful to watch Albert Pujols this season, but the future Hall of Famer has quietly started to turn things around this month.

Pujols is hitting .313 with four homers, five doubles, and a .952 OPS in 17 games this month, compared to .246 with a .733 OPS in April and May, and the 33-year-old told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com: “I feel right now like my old me, like when I was in St. Louis.”

Pujols also admitted that he never felt good last season: “There were some streaks here and there that I hit, but I was battling. I never got to a point where I could say, ‘Holy cow, that’s my bat speed.'”

Obviously hitting well for a few weeks in June isn’t conclusive proof of Pujols returning to his old self, but the Angels will take any signs of optimism they can get at this point and he’s made some adjustments at the plate to take less of a toll on his knee and foot problems.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.