Post Content Cardinals News
March 9th, 2023
JUPITER, Fla. — There were plenty of hugs and handshakes as Albert Pujols popped into Cardinals camp Thursday. There were, however, no regrets.
Pujols visited on his way from Port St. Lucie — where he was visiting with his grandmother — to Miami, where he will attend a World Baseball Classic game this weekend, though not before calling Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol to make sure he was good with it.
Since retiring from baseball in the fall, Pujols has been playing plenty of golf — he’s currently a 2.5 handicap and recently took part in the Waste Management Open pro-am in Phoenix — and traveling to various events, taking in both NBA All-Star weekend (and participating in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game) and the Super Bowl.
“I’m just enjoying doing things that I wanted to do but because of my schedule and my career for 22 years — [for] which I’m grateful and blessed — I wasn’t able to do,” Pujols said. “Now I have my own schedule pretty much to do the things that I wanted to do back then that I couldn’t do. Now I’m able to do it.”
The 43-year-old plans to enjoy his newfound freedom throughout the coming months, but Pujols got his first taste of the coaching side last month in Arizona, where he spent a week in Angels camp as part of his role as a special assistant with the club.
“I have learned so much from so many great players in my career that I think I have a lot to offer and give back,” Pujols said. “It would be really selfish of me just to keep that to myself. I think at the end of the day, it’s just trying to continue to grow in the game, and how you do that is hopefully giving the little wisdom that you know to the young players. That’s something that I did last year, I did it with the Dodgers, I did it with the Angels and I believe I’m going to continue to do [it] as long as I’m alive. I believe that’s part of the responsibility that we have as a player.”
How long might it be before we see Pujols back in a big league uniform in a coaching or managerial capacity? Asked whether he could envision himself taking on such a role, the no-brainer Hall of Famer didn’t have to think about his answer — though he refused to put any type of timetable on such a scenario.
“Of course; I think it will happen,” Pujols said. “When the opportunity is calling and it’s the right opportunity, I will revisit it and see if it’s the best for me. As of right now and the next couple of years, I definitely will enjoy what I’m doing.”
Pujols didn’t pick up a bat during his week with the Angels, rather offering advice to young players, passing along more than two decades worth of lessons he learned during his remarkable career.
“A few people asked me if [I] missed it; I don’t. I prepared myself mentally and physically,” Pujols said. “My career was pretty awesome and successful, but putting on the uniform and just going into the cage, being in the field with the young players now as a coach or as the assistant to the general manager is pretty awesome. I don’t have to have my mind in the cage trying to get myself ready for the season. … I had a great time and enjoyed it, so hopefully I can continue to do more of that. The future of this game is the young players.”
Pujols’ immediate future includes many rounds with his son, AJ, a 22-year-old senior on the Vanguard University golf team. The elder Pujols still wins most of the head-to-head matchups, though he admitted that his son can out-drive him by 20 yards.
“And I drive the ball pretty decently,” Pujols said. “He can pound the ball out there.”
Pujols’ final home run total stood at 703 when he hung up his spikes, good for fourth on the all-time list. He hasn’t been tempted to take any hacks in the cage this spring, though he did play in a softball game in the Dominican Republic, holding his own with a couple of home runs.
When a reporter playfully asked if that means his career home run total should now be 705, Pujols smiled.
“I think it’s 706,” he said. “I hit three, actually.”