It’s been a bad run of late for Albert Pujols. After a solid April, his average and on-base percentage have been pretty dismal in May and June. His power has been alright, but he has definitely looked like an older and less-effective player in recent weeks. A sore back has hampered him. Now something else is hampering him. From the L.A. Times:
[Pujols] disclosed after Sunday’s game that he has played with a swollen lymph node in his left groin since Wednesday.
The Angels did not send Pujols to a doctor. Pujols said the team athletic trainers considered the condition more of an infection than an injury, even with what he said was a gland swollen to the size of a golf ball.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be all right,” Pujols said. “They say it’s one of those things that should go away.”
The ailment led to him being thrown out at second on what would otherwise have been a sure-double. It and his back have limited him to DH duties of late. He simply can’t run.
Figure on some time off for Pujols, but also figure that this is now the new normal for a guy who was once the best hitter in all of baseball.
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.