Albert Pujols leaves Angels to have ailing left foot examined

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UPDATE: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Pujols will have an MRI on his foot. If the tendon in his foot isn’t torn, he will likely receive a cortisone shot.

1:38 PM: Albert Pujols has been hobbled by plantar fasciitis in his left foot for most of the season, but it sounds like he could finally be reaching a breaking point.

According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Pujols has left the team in order to have his foot evaluated. Angels manager Mike Scioscia would only say “we’ll see” when asked whether he’ll face an extended absence.

Pujols has swung the bat well since the All-Star break, hitting .353 (12-for-34) with two homers and seven RBI in eight games, but he told Gonzalez yesterday that he hasn’t felt any improvement with his foot.

“It’s been the same,” Pujols said in Spanish. “I still feel some pain. I still feel it bothering me a bit. That’s something that in the offseason, with time and with rest, hopefully the pain can go away.”

Pujols has made 65 out of 99 starts of the DH spot this season and just hasn’t looked comfortable moving around. With the Angels 11 games out in the AL West and 8.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, it might be time to put pride aside and be realistic.

Pujols, 33, still has about $218 million remaining on his 10-year contract with the Angels which runs through 2021.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

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Dusty Baker was fired last offseason despite leading the Nationals to 95 and 97-win seasons. This was not new for him. Cincinnati let him go after taking a miserable Reds team to back-to-back 90+ win seasons — three in the space of four years — and making it to the playoffs in his final two seasons. In both cases the team that let him go cratered as soon as he left. There are likely reasons that have nothing to do with Dusty Baker for that, but it seems like more than mere coincidence too.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year. It’s an absolute must-read on any of those topics, but taken together it’s a “block off some time this afternoon and enjoy the hell out of it” read.

Two of my favorite passages follow. The first one is a great general point in life: always beware of people who spend more time telling you why they are successful than actually, you know, being successful.

In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what. If we won, it wasn’t winning the right way. They were like, “I don’t understand this mode of thinking.” Well, I don’t want you to understand my mode of thinking. That’s how I can beat you.

The second one is just delicious for what he does not say:

Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…

Baker: I know.

Based on the tone of the rest of the interview, in which Baker does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks, it’s abundantly clear that he believes the Nats have messed Harper up somehow and that it wouldn’t have happened under him.

Like I said, though: there is a TON of great stuff in here. From a guy who, if you’ve listened to him talk when he does not give a crap about what people may say about him, has time and again revealed himself to  be one of the most interesting baseball figures of the past several decades.