Albert Pujols believes moving into coaching ‘will happen’

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols is open to transitioning into coaching. Eventually. Just not yet.

The retired slugger popped into the St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp on Thursday to visit with former teammates and while he believes coaching or some other role within Major League Baseball will happen, he’s not eager to give a timetable.

“Listen 23 years and 24 years, following a schedule from February all the way to October is tough,” said Pujols, who retired in October after 22 years split mostly between the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels. “Now I have the freedom to have my own schedule. That’s something that I’m grateful about.”

Pujols spent a week as a special assistant with the Angels in Arizona shortly after camp opened but the dalliance was just that. He’s embracing retired life after a career that ended with 703 home runs, fourth on the career list.

The almost certain future Hall-of-Famer likely wouldn’t have to look to hard to find work whenever the time comes. Yet he’s in no hurry. There’s too much golf to play, to many members of his family to visit for now. He even made an appearance in the NBA Celebrity game as part of the league’s All-Star weekend last month.

Pujols stressed he wasn’t going to put a “stamp” on when the right time will be to return to the game in a larger capacity.

“If it happens next year it’s great,” he said. “Knowing myself I think I’ll let that moment come and I’ll revisit if it’s something I think that works, I’ll do it for sure.”


Phildelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper thinks he could be ready as soon as the All-Star break as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery.

The two-time National League MVP said Thursday the team has solidified mid-July as the potential target date for Harper to return.

Harper spent most of last season as Philadelphia’s designated hitter after initially injuring his right elbow in April. He underwent surgery in November, not long after helping the Phillies to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

The 30-year-old Harper intends to serve as a designated hitter whenever he gets back in the lineup. Returning to right field could take considerably longer.

“Of course, I want to play the outfield,” Harper said “I want to get back out there and be in front of the fans in right field doing my stuff and hearing it from all the teams (fans) in the league, too.”


The New York Yankees will have to wait a bit for their investment in Carlos Rodón to pay off.

General manager Brian Cashman said the veteran left-handed pitcher will begin the season on the injured list due to a left forearm strain. Rodón won’t throw for 7-10 days, squashing any chance he’ll will be ready by opening day.

The Yankees signed Rodón to a $162 million, six-year contract during the offseason after Rodón put together back-to-back All-Star seasons, first with the Chicago White Sox in 2021 and then with the San Francisco Giants last summer.


Hunter Greene will be the opening day starter for the Cincinnati Reds.

The 23-year-old is getting the nod as he begins his second season in the majors.

“It means the world. It’s a huge honor considering the history in Cincinnati,” said Greene who went 5-13 in 24 starts during his rookie season. “It is a huge honor with the talent we have, Nick, Graham, Cessa (Luis). Knowing the history and the potential we have to bring the team back (after 100 losses). It’s a baseball city. We want to win as much as the fans do to bring that atmosphere back to the city.”

Greene threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings against Pittsburgh in May and lost, and he was leading the National League in home runs allowed before missing 43 games with a right shoulder strain.


San Diego starter Michael Wacha pitched three innings against Cleveland, giving up two unearned runs. Wacha, who didn’t sign with San Diego until last month, wasn’t worried about needing time to get up to speed.

“This is my 10th spring training, I’ve kind of gotten it figured out,” Wacha said after his outing. “Obviously over the years there have been some tweaks here and there, but even (before signing) I was continuing to do that.”

He gave up three hits and struck out two, and the runs were unearned.

Wacha, 31, was 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts for Boston last season.

Reliever Josh Hader followed Wacha to the mound. The hard-throwing lefty closer begins his first full season in San Diego after being acquired from Milwaukee.

Throwing several sliders in his second outing, Hader gave up two hits and a walk but no runs. He threw one wild pitch and struck out one.

“That was one of my goals, trying to get a lot of reps with that slider,” Hader said.

He said he threw more fastballs in his first outing, so he emphasized his slider this time. “Try to get them for strikes and see the reactions of the hitters, and seeing if I want to work on it more.

“Overall there was more good than bad.”


There appears to be plenty of life left in Rich Hill‘s left arm on the eve of his 43rd birthday.

The 17-year veteran allowed one run and two hits for Pittsburgh on Thursday in a 10-7 loss to Detroit. Hill, who turns 43 on Saturday, mixed speeds and arm angles to keep the Tigers off balance.

Hill’s fastball topped out at 89 mph. His array of breaking balls dipped as low as 68 mph. He caught Detroit’s Justyn-Henry Malloy on three pitches in the second and followed it up by fanning Kerry Carpenter on a slider that hit just 68.8 mph on the radar gun.

The Pirates signed Hill to an $8 million. one-year deal, hoping he will provide both a boost on the mound and in the clubhouse for a team littered with young players, particularly in the starting rotation.


Phillies reliever Gregory Soto threw 24 pitches over one inning during a simulated game one day after reporting for spring training. Soto’s arrival from the Dominican Republic was delayed due to visa problems.

The two-time All-Star was obtained from the Detroit Tigers as part of a five-player deal in January.

“I knew I was getting to a new team, and I wanted to get familiar with the new personnel, new teammates,” Soto said through an interpreter. “So, the longer I was in the DR the less time was going to have here.”

Soto was able to work out at the Phillies’ academy in the Dominican Republic, which is about an hour away from his home.

The visa delay prevented Soto from pitching in this month’s World Baseball Classic.

“Right now it hurts a little,” Soto said. “But I know this is my priority.”


Aaron Boone’s still got it.

The New York Yankees skipper celebrated his 50th birthday by taking a little batting practice, a round that included a shot over the left field fence at George M Steinbrenner Field.

Boone, who hit 126 homers during a a 12-year major league career and famously ended the 2003 AL Championship Series with a walk-off homer against Boston’s Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning in Game 7, dropped his bat after the ball left his bat while slugger Giancarlo Stanton roared his approval just outside the batting cage.


Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has placed an emphasis on team bonding and one of the activities concluded with pitcher Dean Kremer winning the clubhouse ping pong tournament.

“We have a few things,” Hyde said. “We have a dart tournament going on. We’ll have some basketball stuff during March Madness. See who’s got the best jumper on the team. It’s just the same thing every single day (at spring training). Just try to keep it light.”

Kremer defeated first baseman Ryan O’Hearn in a best-of-three matchup. Kremer was departing Thursday to join Team Israel in Miami, Florida for the World Baseball Classic.

Hyde jokingly said the ping pong tournament was the reason that Kremer hadn’t reported to Team Israel.

U.S. routs Cuba 14-2 to reach World Baseball Classic final

Eric Espada/Getty Images

MIAMI — Trea Turner and Paul Goldschmidt and an unrelenting U.S. lineup kept putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, a dynamic display of the huge gap between an American team of major leaguers and Cubans struggling on the world stage as top players have left the island nation.

Turner homered twice to give him a tournament-leading four, driving in four runs to lead the U.S. to a 14-2 rout Sunday night and advance the defending champion Americans to the World Baseball Classic final.

Goldschmidt also homered and had four RBIs and Cedric Mullins went deep in a game interrupted three times by fans running on the field to display protest signs.

“The team kind of represents the government over there, and people aren’t too happy about it,” U.S. manager Mark DeRosa said.

The U.S. plays Japan or Mexico in Tuesday night’s championship, trying to join the Samurai Warriors as the only nations to win the title twice.

“I think it took us a little bit of time, but now we kind of found our stride a little bit,” Turner said.

Turner has a tournament-leading 10 RBIs. He followed his go-ahead, eighth-inning grand slam a night earlier against Venezuela with a solo homer in the second inning off Roenis Elias (0-1) and a three-run drive in the sixth against Elian Leyva.

“I kept saying every time he went deep, who is the idiot that’s hitting him ninth?” DeRosa said.

Cuba went ahead when its first four batters reached off Adam Wainwright (2-0) without getting a ball out of the infield. The 41-year-old right-hander recovered to strand the bases loaded.

“I put myself in that situation in the first place by making horrible PFP plays — or not making PFP plays,” Wainwright said in a reference to pitchers’ fielding practice.

American batters had 14 hits, including eight for extra bases, and seven walks. Goldschmidt hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the first on a 112 mph rocket high over the left-field wall. He added a two-run single in the fifth.

“For me that was one of my favorite home runs I’ve ever hit in my entire life,” Goldschmidt said.

St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado left after he was hit on a hand by a pitch in the fifth inning, briefly raising another injury concern before X-rays came back as negative. Mets closer Edwin Díaz sustained a season-ending knee injury during the celebration that followed Puerto Rico’s win on Wednesday and Houston second baseman Jose Altuve broke a thumb when hit by a pitch while playing for Venezuela on Saturday.

Fans in the sellout crowd of 35,779 at loanDepot Park sounded evenly split between the U.S. and Cuba. Several hundred people gathered before the game outside the ballpark in Miami’s Little Havana section to protest the presence of the Cuban team, whose island nation has been under communist rule since 1959.

Play was briefly interrupted in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings when fans ran onto the field. The first held a banner that read “Libertad Para Los Presos Cubanos del 11 de Julio (Freedom for the Cuban Prisoners of July 11)” referring to the date of 2021 demonstrations.

“There were provocations, but we never paid attention to it,” Cuba manager Armando Johnson said.

Cuban fans roared in the early going when their team’s first four batters strung together three infield hits and a bases-loaded walk. Wainwright allowed one run and five hits in four innings. Cardinals teammate Miles Mikolas followed with four innings and Aaron Loup finished.

An Olympic gold medalist in 1992, 1996 and 2004, Cuba’s national team has struggled in recent years as many top players left for MLB. Cuba failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Cuba for the first time this year is using some players under contract to MLB clubs, including Chicago White Sox Gold Glove centerfielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoán Moncada — who were booed. But many Cuban big leaguers were absent.

“We would like for the other players to join,” Johnson said. “They should think about it and return to Cuba.”


DeRosa on what he did after Saturday night’s come-from-behind quarterfinal win over Venezuela.

“I was reading how horrible a manager I was on social media first,” he said.


In the other semifinal, Japan starts 21-year-old sensation Roki Sasaki against Mexico and the Los Angeles Angels’ Patrick Sandoval on Monday night.


Moncada left after the third baseman collided in the sixth inning with left fielder Roel Santos, who caught Kyle Schwarber’s fly. Moncada was hit on the ribs but is OK, Johnson said.


Arizona RHP Merrill Kelly is likely to start the final.