Albert Pujols does not have to worry about the reaction of fans in his former… (Andy Lyons / Getty Images )
Josh Hamilton is not the only superstar in the Angels' clubhouse who had a bitter breakup with the fans of his old team. Albert Pujols is no longer universally beloved in St. Louis.
Hamilton had a harsh homecoming reception in Texas over the weekend. Pujols said he does not worry about what kind of reaction would await him when he returns to St. Louis.
"I'm way past that," Pujols told The Times. "When the time comes, I'll deal with it."
The Angels do play the Cardinals this season, but the games are in Anaheim. If the schedule holds, Pujols and the Angels wouldn't play in St. Louis until 2016.
Hamilton established himself as a star in Texas, but he did not start his career with the Rangers. Pujols had played his entire career with the Cardinals -- 11 years, three Most Valuable Player awards, two World Series championships -- and had blossomed into a superstar for a distinguished franchise with a deep-rooted fan base.
He signed with the Angels before last season for $240 million -- the third-richest contract in baseball history -- alienating those fans who recalled his promise not to make his free agency all about the money. The locals were only too happy to notice that the Cardinals made the playoffs last season and the Angels did not.
In explaining how the Cardinals succeeded despite the losses of Pujols and Manager Tony La Russa, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gleefully displayed this headline, in enormous capital letters: "NO TONY. NO ALBERT. NO PROBLEM." The Post-Dispatch then sold reproductions of that page on T-shirts.
Pujols and his family still live in St. Louis. His charitable foundation remains active there.
"Everybody has been so kind and generous," he said. "They appreciate what I did for the city."
Does he believe he would hear boos?
"If it happens, so what? It wouldn't bother me," Pujols said. "I get booed everywhere else I play. When they boo you, it's because you did something special. The numbers speak for themselves."
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