Michael Young expects to be “better than ever” at third base

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Stifle your laughter. Phillies third baseman Michael Young is very confident about his return to the hot corner, reports MLB.com’s Paul Hagen:

Can Young, at age 36, play third better than he ever has before?

“I expect to,” he said. “Preparation is the key to anything and I feel like I’m prepared and working hard, and I want to keep doing that during the season. I feel comfortable now, but there is always work to be done. I know I haven’t been at third in a while, but I do know what it takes to play third base at a high level and I have definite goals in my head about the type of third base I intend to play. I’m going to keep working hard until I get there.”

He’s keeping those goals to himself, and they’re not necessarily numerical.

“It’s the way I feel over there. The third base I know I can play. I don’t feel like I’ve played it to this point in my career. I’ve worked at it and worked at it, but at the same time you need the reps. A lot of things are starting to click over there that I was kind of searching for a little bit earlier. This is a classic example of learning by doing,” he said.

Young’s mediocre defense has been the inspiration behind such legendary animated .gifs as this and this (and probably this, too). If you put any stock in Ultimate Zone Rating, he has been the third-worst-fielding third baseman in baseball since 2009. Overall, he was the second-least-valuable player in the big leagues last season. But he has grit, leadership, and passion for the game, which is what really matters when your team is hovering around .500.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).