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Albert Pujols has been crushing the ball since Mickey Hatcher was fired

Albert Pujols is quietly coming on for the Angels after putting together one of the worst starts to the season in MLB. The All-Star slugger has at least a hit in 13 of his last 14 games, and his numbers have noticeably improved since the team fired Mickey Hatcher as hitting coach on May 15. The stats show a significant difference.

With Hatcher as coach (37 games/146 at-bats):

    .212 avg, 1 HR, 14 RBIs, .288 slugging, .536 OPS, 6 BB/18 K

Without Hatcher as coach (10 games/39 at-bats):

    .282 avg, 5 HRs, 11 RBIs, .692 slugging, .821 OPS, 5 BB/5 K

The media and fans often make batting coaches out to be poor, scapegoated souls when they get fired because a team slumps, but the truth is sometimes all players need is change in order to turn things around. This move certainly hasn’t hurt Pujols.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

David Ortiz on slumping Albert Pujols: He’s a bad motherf***er

Albert Pujols has managed to end his home run drought in Los Angeles, but the numbers are still far from cutting it. A quarter of the way through the season, the $240 million man is still hitting .214 with an on-base percentage of only .248. He has driven in only 18 runs and has three homers, but Pujols is finally showing signs of life at the plate. As someone who knows plenty about starting the year off in a horrible slump, David Ortiz says he is not worried about Albert turning it around — and we shouldn’t be either.

“Albert Pujols? Let me tell you something about Albert Pujols,” Ortiz said according to ESPNBoston.com. “Albert Pujols is a bad mother f—er. The baseball world needs Albert Pujols.

“I spent two months with one home run, and I got exhausted mentally and physically. But it was more mental because it was too much of me trying different things and trying to figure out why I wasn’t hitting homers.”

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Albert Pujols throws glove at Erick Aybar during postgame handshakes (Video)

There was an unusual moment during the Angels’ postgame handshake lineup on Wednesday night. After beating the Twins 6-2, the Angels players lined up for handshakes and high-fives to celebrate the win. For some reason, Albert Pujols chucked his glove at teammate Erick Aybar. The move was strange and made Pujols look like a jerk, but SI injury expert Will Carroll points out that the elbow the slugger was grabbing is the same one he had surgery on in 2008 and 2009. Aybar must have touched or pushed him in a sensitive area and got that reaction. No harm, no foul, but it was certainly a funny video.

Forearm bash to Midwest Sports Fans

Angels play prank on Albert Pujols after first home run of the season (Video)

Two days after being serenaded by boos from Angels fans and a day after being held out of the lineup, Albert Pujols finally blasted his first hit out of the park as a member of the Angels. During the 5th inning of Sunday’s game with the Blue Jays, in his 111th AB of the year, Pujols bombed a two-run homer that gave the Angels a 4-1 advantage. And there to greet him in the dugout was … no one.

While Pujols rounded the bases, his teammates spilled into the clubhouse as a prank, leaving the Angels dugout completely empty by the time Pujols returned. Before long, everybody returned and congratulated the slugger. Pujols was all smiles about the joke. After all, he had just gotten the biggest (rally) monkey in his career off his back. Now back to trying to get to .500, Halos.

Albert Pujols booed by Angels fans after another hitless night

When Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a $240 million contract a few months ago, I doubt either side envisioned zero home runs and a sub-.200 average for the slugger a full month into the season. On Friday night, the fans’ level of frustration officially reached its boiling point. After grounding out in the ninth inning to cap off an 0-for-4 night against the Blue Jays, Angels fans rained boos down on their new slugger.

“I know better than to get myself down,” Pujols said after the game according to the Orange County Register. “And my message to the fans is, they have a reason to boo. I’m not performing the way that I can, but just the same way I’m patient, they need to be patient and know that I’m gonna be here for 10 years. I don’t read the future, but I guarantee to you there’s gonna be more cheers than boos in those 10 years.

“This is just six weeks into the season. They have the right. They pay a lot of money to come and watch me play, and I’m not performing the way I know how to perform. But I also understand I can’t force it. I’m trying my best.”

Obviously, things are going to improve for Pujols at the plate. That being said, he’s right about the fans having every right to boo. The Angels are digging themselves into a pretty significant early-season hole, and Pujols is one of the main reasons for it. The longer his slump continues, the steeper the climb becomes for the Angels to reach the postseason. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not. But if you ask me Angels fans have waited long enough for the biggest investment in team history to start paying off.

Photo credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Albert Pujols is upset with hitting coach Mickey Hatcher for telling the media what he said in a meeting

At some point this season, Albert Pujols is going to turn it on. He has to. Through 23 games this season, Pujols has yet to hit his first home run as a member of the Angels and has only four RBIs. He is hitting .217 with an on-base percentage of .265. Albert is one of the reasons Los Angeles is off to an 8-15 start, and he will probably be one of the reasons they go on a tear at some point later in the season.

Pujols knows he isn’t coming close to living up to the $240 million contract he signed this past offseason, and he acknowledged that during a recent meeting with his teammates. According to Eye on Baseball, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher says Pujols stood up during a pregame meeting on Monday and assured the team that his slump will not continue. While it sound admirable, Albert is unhappy with Hatcher for telling all of us that he did that.

“Mickey should have never told you guys that,” Pujols said. “That stuff needs to be private. He should have never told the media. What we talked about at the meeting, not disrespecting Mickey, but that stuff should stay behind closed doors.”

Pujols is right in the sense that private meetings should be kept private, but Hatcher certainly wasn’t trying to make him look bad. In fact, he was doing the exact opposite. The media has been all over Pujols for his slow start — as they should be with the amount of money he’s being paid. Hatcher was trying to show the public how determined he is. Pujols’ reaction to Hatcher telling the media about it probably speaks more to his frustration level at the moment than anything.

Photo credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Angels would not confirm to C.J. Wilson that they were pursuing Albert Pujols

Signing a player to a $250 million contract is not something that just comes together overnight. Very few of us thought of Los Angeles as a potential landing spot for Albert Pujols this past offseason, but the Angels had to have been planning it all along. Considering we are living in an era where Twitter and other forms of social media prevent anyone from keeping a secret, the Angels did a tremendous job of keeping their intentions under wraps. In fact, they even kept C.J. Wilson in the dark about it when they were courting the left-hander.

“I personally found out about the Albert Pujols thing via twitter,” Wilson said during an interview with ESPN Los Angeles. “(Angels GM) Jerry Dipoto was sitting in my agent’s hotel suite and we were sitting their talking to him and he said look I don’t mean to be blunt, but if there is a paper that walks in here I am going to have to divert my attention to that because there is something else going on. I was like what the hell is this guy talking about right now? It is 3 in the morning. Either he has had too many beers or something. We were all kind of loopy at this point.

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