Angels first baseman Albert Pujols took sole possession of 18th place on the all-time home run leaderboard with a first-inning solo shot off of Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in the first inning on Sunday afternoon. It’s the 522nd home run of the slugger’s career, breaking a four-way tie with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams.
Pujols could conceivably pass Mike Schmidt, with 548 career home runs, in 15th place by the end of the season. He would need to hit 27 more home runs to do so. Pujols’ next targets, however, are Jimmie Foxx (534) and Mickey Mantle (536).
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Pujols’ 521st home run came on Wednesday, a first-inning, two-run home run off of Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
Pujols entered Sunday afternoon’s game batting just .105 (2-for-19). After playing in only 99 games in 2013, Pujols had a fully healthy season last year and posted solid offensive numbers, finishing with a .790 OPS, 28 home runs, and 105 RBI in 695 plate appearances.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.