Albert Pujols played first base Tuesday for the first time in this year’s Cactus League and reported no issues with his surgically-repaired right knee.
Pujols got pulled after five innings and was never really tested on defense, but the slugger told USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale after his day was through that he is feeling good and fully expects to be in the Angels’ lineup for the regular-season opener on April 1 against the Reds. It’s at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati — where Pujols was a .316/.404/.598 career hitter during his time with the Cardinals.
Pujols was 0-for-2 at the plate in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Brewers, but he still boasts a .313 batting average in eight spring games. He posted the worst OPS (.859) and OPS+ (141) of his career in 2012 with Anaheim.
The Angels still owe the 33-year-old first baseman a whopping $228 million.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.