Albert Pujols missed the final two months of the season with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot, but the Angels slugger said that his foot is now “99.9 percent healthy.”
Speaking to ESPNDeportes Radio (via Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com), Pujols said:
I feel really happy. Last year … it was a really tough year for me physically, in terms of recovering. But now I feel really good, really excellent. With the foot, I feel 99.9 percent healthy. And with my knee, I’m doing my rehab like always. That’s something where you have to keep doing therapy so that something small doesn’t become something bigger.
In other words, his foot may feel good–Pujols noted that he played through the pain for many years–but the 34-year-old still has some injury issues to deal with as he heads into Year 3 of a 10-year, $240 million contract.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.