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Albert Pujols thinks he’s above Mike Trout comparisons

Albert-Pujols-Angels-slumpMike Trout has had better overall production than Albert Pujols with the Los Angeles Angels over the past two seasons, but Albert Pujols is still Albert Pujols. The 34-year-old slugger is one of the greatest hitters to ever play. He’s also the only player in MLB history to bat at least .300 with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI in his first 10 seasons.

Trout, who has been healthier than Pujols in recent years, has established himself as one of the best players in the game. That doesn’t mean he can be compared to Pujols just yet, and Albert was beyond offended when a reporter asked him earlier this offseason if he is motivated to put up the same numbers as Trout.

“Can you imagine someone saying that to me?” Pujols told USA Today Sports when recalling the question. “I felt like saying, ‘Come on, are you serious? Are you really asking me that? Check out my numbers. I know what Mike Trout has done in his first two years is pretty special, but will you look at my numbers. I’ve been doing this for almost 14 years.’

“The only guy in baseball who can match the numbers I’ve put up is Barry Bonds, and someone is actually asking if I can put up numbers like Mike Trout? Are you freaking kidding me?”

While Pujols certainly has a point, the fact that he and Trout share the same locker room makes his reaction a bit awkward. You can understand his not wanting to be compared to a 22-year-old kid, but that kid is his teammate. It’s not like Pujols was compared to some minor leaguer in the Miami Marlins’ system.

“He’s a great kid who always wants to learn and is so humble,” Pujols says. “But if it takes someone comparing me to Mike Trout to motivate me, it’s time for me to get out of the game.”

Relax, big fella. Pujols’ foot injury has scared Angels fans to the point where they are already starting to call his massive contract a mistake. If Trout is still Trout in 2014 and Pujols can get back to being Pujols, the Angels have a chance to make a run in the American League.

H/T Big League Stew

Jack Clark challenges Albert Pujols to take lie detector test about steroids

Albert-Pujols-Angels-slumpFormer St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols filed a lawsuit against Jack Clark earlier this month in response to Clark’s steroids allegations.

Clark, a four-time MLB All-Star and former Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach, recently accused Pujols of using steroids. Pujols vowed to take legal action against Clark in response. Clark, who was fired from his radio gig with WGNU after making the comments about Pujols, does not seem overly concerned about the lawsuit.

On Monday, Clark’s attorney sent a letter to Pujols’ legal team proposing the two sides settle the lawsuit by submitting to a lie detector test. The letter, which was obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, suggested that Pujols allow a lie detector test administrator to ask him if “he is being deceptive when he asserts that he has never used steroids or performing enhancing drugs while in the minor and major leagues.” In return, Clark would be asked if he was lying about former personal trainer Chris Mihlfeld telling him Pujols “juiced.”

The letter proposed that the dispute be settled depending on what happens with the polygraph tests. Basically, Clark is hoping they can take the lie detector tests and then the person who needs to apologize will apologize and be done with it.

Obviously, this resolution would be best for Clark. Pujols has more money than he knows what do with, so he doesn’t even need to take legal fees into consideration. Clark could be telling the truth about Mihlfeld claiming Pujols took steroids, but he’s the one that decided to share it with the world on his radio show. Don’t expect Pujols to agree to take a polygraph test. That would be way too big of a risk.

Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols nearly fought during Angels team meeting

Torii Hunter Albert PujolsTorii Hunter wanted to fight Albert Pujols during a Los Angeles Angels team meeting last season, according to a report.

Scott Miller at CBS Sports has a lengthy article full of strong reporting about the Angels. The article touches on the influence of Angels owner Arte Moreno, and casts the owner as a meddling, negative influence when it comes to building the team. But the real highlight is a story about Hunter and Pujols getting into it last season when the Angels were in a tough stretch.

According to Miller, the Angels had just badly lost three games to the Tampa Bay Rays in August (they were swept in that four-game series), and they called a team meeting following the third loss, a 10-8 defeat on Aug. 19 in which they blew an 8-0 lead. The previous game, the Angels lost 12-3 as Jered Weaver was pounded. Weaver got upset with a teammate for missing a ball during that outing. The next day, C.J. Wilson apparently was chirping in the Angels’ dugout about the hitters struggling, and Torii Hunter had to tell him to pipe down. With all the tension between teammates, a meeting was called following the 10-8 loss.

Miller says veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins called the meeting, but the players couldn’t decide on the format. Pujols apparently wanted it to include the coaches, while Hawkins thought it should just be between the players. During the meeting, Pujols supposedly called out Weaver for showing up a teammate on Friday. He then turned his attention to Hunter for the incident in the dugout with Wilson on Saturday. Hunter reportedly became livid with Pujols.

Here’s Miller’s description of what ensued:

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Albert Pujols outraged, taking legal action against Jack Clark

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols is outraged by the claims Jack Clark made about him the past two weeks, and he says he is taking legal action against the retired slugger and the radio station that employs him.

Clark, a four-time all-star and former hitting coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was recently hired as a sports radio host by WGNU. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that on two separate occasions recently, Clark said on air that he knows Pujols used steroids. Last Friday, Clark said on air that Pujols “has been a juicer.”

“I know for a fact he was,” Clark said on his show. “The trainer that worked with him, threw him batting practice from Kansas City, that worked him out every day, basically told me that’s what he did.”

Clark apparently reiterated his claims on Monday on his show, and he stood by his comments in an interview with the Post-Dispatch on Thursday.

In addition to Pujols, Clark implied that Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander is juicing, and he said former Dodgers slugger Shawn Green cheated.

Pujols wasn’t about to let the accusations go unnoticed. He issued an angry statement in response and said he was taking legal action against Clark and WGNU. Here’s the full statement via Angels.com:

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Jack Clark accuses Albert Pujols of using steroids, also mentions Justin Verlander

Albert-Pujols-Angels-slumpFormer MLB slugger Jack Clark began working as a radio host on WGNU 920 AM’s afternoon slot this week, and he has already managed to gain national attention. Clark, who belted 340 home runs over his 18-year MLB career, has mentioned twice how former personal trainer Chris Mihlfeld told him he injected Albert Pujols with performance-enhancing drugs.

Mihlfeld used to be Pujols’ personal trainer. In 2006, Mihlfeld’s name was linked to performance-enhancing drugs after Jason Grimsley, one of his former clients, admitted to taking steroids. That resulted in Pujols having to defend himself against PED accusations, which has has done several times since.

During a phone interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, Clark spoke about how he worked with Mihlfeld in 2000 as a coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers and said the former personal trainer tried to encourage him to take steroids like Pujols was. Clark claims he was simply looking for a nutrition program, which led to the following exchange with Mihlfeld.

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Albert Pujols yells at Grant Balfour after 2-run single (Video)

Albert Pujols had words for Oakland A’s relief pitcher Grant Balfour after hitting a 2-run single off of him in the ninth inning of Oakland’s 6-4 win over the Angels at O.co Coliseum on Friday night.

Albert Pujols Grant BalfourBalfour threw up and in on Pujols earlier in the at-bat, which angered the Angels DH. Balfour tried going in on Pujols again on the 2-2 pitch, but Pujols lined the ball down the left field line. As Pujols was going up the first base line, he barked at Balfour.

It’s hard to tell what Pujols said, but it looks like he yelled “pitch” or a not-so-nice word that rhymes with pitch. One thing that is for sure is it’s not often you see Pujols that heated.

Another note about the hit — Pujols only got a single even though most would have taken two on the play. Pujols is still playing through plantar fasciitis and can hardly run. He was replaced by a pinch runner after reaching first. Balfour then struck out Josh Hamilton to end the game.

Mike Scioscia: Albert Pujols is only playing at 70 percent

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols has been hitting the ball well for the Angels this season, which is even more impressive given his health limitations.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Sunday that Pujols, 33, is playing at only 70 percent health.

“You know, Albert’s going to give you what he has,” Scioscia said, via MLB.com. “If he has 70 percent, he’s going to give you 70 percent. That’s where he is right now, whatever percentage you want to put on it. Obviously, he’s not 100 percent.”

Pujols has played seven games at first base this season and served as the designated hitter for the others. He was moved from first to DH prior to Sunday’s game to take the pressure off his foot, per MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom.

It’s pretty clear watching Pujols that he is not even close to full strength. He struggles to move and does not completely run out ground balls. Still, he has managed to bat .293 through 12 games. Half of his 12 hits have been for extra bases — he has four doubles and two home runs, and he has walked 11 times.

Pujols underwent knee surgery over the offseason and is also being bothered by plantar fasciitis in his foot. One has to wonder how long he will be able to keep this up. The way he is going, I cannot imagine him making it through the season without a stint on the disabled list.

Photo credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE