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#pounditThursday, December 8, 2022

Albert Pujols makes statement about future amid HR chase

Albert Pujols looking on

May 27, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) walks on the field before the game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols suddenly has a legitimate shot at hitting 700 career home runs, a milestone that looked unlikely earlier in the season. That also opens up the possibility that Pujols will fall just short, leading to some speculation about whether that outcome might lead him to reconsider his retirement.

Pujols made clear, however, that will not happen. The St. Louis Cardinals veteran announced before the start of the season that the 2022 campaign would be his last, and he is not changing his mind even if he falls just short of the 700 home run mark.

“I’m still going to retire, no matter whether I end up hitting 693, 696, 700, whatever,” Pujols told Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. “I don’t get caught up in numbers. If you were going to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you’re freakin’ crazy. My career has been amazing.”

At the end of play Sunday, Pujols had 692 career home runs with 42 games remaining in the regular season. Hitting eight home runs over that span seems unlikely, especially if he is not starting every game, as has been the case all year. On the other hand, he has six home runs in his last nine games, a hot streak that has given him a chance to achieve the mark in the first place.

Pujols’ legacy is secure whether he reaches 700 home runs or not. It would be a nice way to bookend his career, but not a necessary one. That won’t stop his teammates from rooting for more moments like this one, though.

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