Angels Chris Iannetta, right, and Albert Pujols exchange a high-five Monday. (Jim Mone / Associated Press )
There have been far more ground balls to the left side than line drives into the gaps, but Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who took a .222 average into Thursday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins, is not overly concerned about his slow start.
“Not to be cocky, but I know I can hit, it’s not going to go away like that,” Pujols said, snapping his fingers. “I’m trying to stay inside the ball and not think too much. But I think that’s what’s been going on the last few days, I’m thinking too much.”
Eight games into his 2003 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols was hitting .241. He went on to win the National League batting title with a .359 average, to go with 43 home runs, 51 doubles and 124 runs batted in.
Pujols hit .267 with nine homers and 31 RBIs last April and May, but he snapped out of his funk, hitting .318 with 28 homers and 68 RBIs from June 1 on. The slugger hit .353 (24 for 68) with five homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games to help the Cardinals win the World Series.
Pujols led the American League with seven homers and an .850 slugging percentage this spring, calling it “probably the best spring in my career,” but that hasn’t translated into much production in the Angels’ first five games.
“I went through a rough start last year and learned from that,” Pujols said. “I had a good spring and took it into the season, but obviously, my numbers don’t show that. Sometimes that happens, but it’s a long season. I can’t think about my numbers, just how many wins we have.”
The Angels are 2-3 entering Thursday’s game, after which they will travel to New York for a three-game weekend series in Yankee Stadium.
The Angels lineup: SS Maicer Izturis, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Albert Pujols, RF Torii Hunter, DH Mark Trumbo, LF Vernon Wells, 3B Alberto Callaspo, C Bobby Wilson, CF Peter Bourjos, P Dan Haren.
The Twins lineup: CF Denard Span, SS Jamey Carroll, C Joe Mauer, DH Justin Morneau, LF Josh Willingham, 1B Chris Parmelee, 3B Danny Valencia, RF Ben Revere, 2B Alexi Casilla, P Francisco Liriano.
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