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Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Angels win 2-1 to prevent Rangers from clinching AL West

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Mike Trout hit a leadoff triple in the ninth inning and scored on Albert Pujols‘ tiebreaking single, sending the wild card-contending Los Angeles Angels to a 2-1 win over Texas that kept the Rangers from clinching the AL West title Friday night.

Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson (6-4) appeared in his fourth consecutive game. Trout hit the second pitch deep into the right-center gap, then slid headfirst into third base before emphatically pumping his right arm toward his teammates in the dugout.

Pujols followed with a soft single to left field on the next pitch.

Texas went into Friday already assured a playoff spot, but able to secure the division title with a win over the Angels or a loss by second-place Houston.

Already assured a playoff spot, Texas went into Friday needing a win over the Angels or a loss by second-place Houston to secure the division title. The Astros were playing in Arizona later Friday night, and were up 6-1 in the fourth inning when the Rangers finished their game.

Los Angeles began the day tied with Minnesota and a game behind Houston in the race for the second AL wild card. The Twins lost at home to AL Central champion Kansas City, dropping a game behind the Angels.

The Angels have won eight of their last 10 games, but their 5-3 loss Thursday in the opener of the four-game series assured Texas a playoff spot.

Mike Morin (4-2), the fourth Angels pitcher, retired the only batter he faced when Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the eighth.

Joe Smith worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save, including a strikeout of slugger Josh Hamilton, who was traded from Los Angeles back to Texas in April. Smith had faced only batter since a foot injury Sept. 17 before taking over in the ninth.

Shin-Soo Choo matched his career high with his 22nd homer leading off the Texas fourth to tie the game at 1. Choo is batting .413 (33 of 80) over his last 21 games to raise his batting average from .253 to .276, and has reached base in 51 of his last 53 games.

There was also a nice defensive play by Choo, who caught Trout’s slicing fly to right while running into the right-field corner to start the sixth.

Erick Aybar singled on the first pitch of the game, advancing on Pujols’ single before scoring on C.J. Cron‘s hit for a 1-0 lead off Rangers left-hander Martin Perez.

But Perez then retired 19 of the last 21 batters he faced, issuing a two-out walk to Trout in the third and allowing a two-out single to Aybar in the fifth. Perez’s 100th and final pitch was a groundout by Carlos Perez to end the seventh.

Aybar, the Angels shortstop, had errors on consecutive plays in the sixth to allow Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor to reach with one out. But Chris Jimenez struck out before a flyout by Delino DeShields ended the inning.

Jered Weaver, making his 20th career start at Texas, allowed two hits over six innings. The right-hander struck out two and walked three.

UP NEXT

Angels: Still in position for a playoff spot, left-hander Hector Santiago (9-9) takes the mound for the Angels. He is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA in five starts this season against Texas.

Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis tries to increase his career high to 18 wins when he makes his 33rd start of the season. He has already thrown more than 200 innings. The only other times he did were 2010 and 2011, the seasons of the Rangers’ only World Series appearances.

Albert Pujols may DH the rest of the season due to a foot injury

Albert Pujols
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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Angels first baseman Albert Pujols may have to DH the rest of the season due to a lingering right foot injury. Pujols dealt with plantar fasciitis last season, but it was in his left foot.

Pujols, 35, was having a terrific season, but has slumped since around the beginning of August. In 125 plate appearances since August 1, he’s hitting .228/.288/.377 with five home runs and 16 RBI. He has 35 home runs overall, his highest home run total since hitting 37 in 2011.

C.J. Cron should get the majority of starts at first base while Pujols serves as the DH, however long that ends up being.