MLB memo tells teams to end to organized workouts

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MLB sent a memo to all 30 teams in which the league said that teams should “avoid all actives in which players congregate in significant numbers.” The memo advocated that players, coaches and staffers engage in the social distancing practices advocated by the CDC. Evan Drellich has the memo here:

There’s a lot to unpack here. Non-roster players are being sent home unless travel is too great a risk or they live in a COVID-19 hotspot, or they are receiving medial treatment from the team. The memo also states that players on the 40-man roster must be allowed to stay at the facility if they choose to do so, and that they be given continued spring training allowances.

Yet the most telling nugget may be that the league anticipates that those players will decide to go home as the pandemic unfolds and they are given more information about the dangers of the disease. Indeed, the memo states in the opening paragraphs that future restrictions imposed by the government will likely further impede the sport’s ability to operate.

The moratorium on group activities extends to the teams’ facilities in the Dominican Republic, and some of the athletes at those facilities will be sent home.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will be hosting a conference call at 12:00 ET on Monday to discuss the new further discuss the ongoing crisis. Given the speed at which the pandemic is unfolding, there will likely be new matters to consider by that time.

The end to group activities comes as some players elect to stay in camp and work out, including the entirety of the Yankees’ roster. The instructions also come the same afternoon as the news that a minor leaguer in Yankees camp has tested positive for COVID-19.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step.

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Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.