Angels slugger Albert Pujols awaits his turn to bat during the game against… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
With Albert Pujols playing despite an injury to his left foot, the Angels are prepared for him to be limited to designated hitter for an extended period.
"I'm dying," Pujols said Sunday. "It's hurting real bad."
Pujols started at DH for the fourth consecutive game, and has started more games at DH than at first base. He is suffering from plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that stretches across the bottom of the foot.
The most effective treatment can be to stay off the foot — in the case of a baseball player, a stint on the disabled list to let the inflammation subside. Jerry Dipoto, the Angels' general manager, said the team hopes to manage the injury through treatment and let Pujols play unless he says he cannot tolerate the pain.
"We've discussed every alternative imaginable," Dipoto said. "We've consulted with specialists.
"He is particularly tough, mentally and physically. He's handling it as well as you can."
Pujols, 33, has played all 17 games this season, batting .317 with two home runs and 13 runs batted in. He leads the team in on-base percentage (.436) and OPS (.944).
The Angels expect Pujols to return to first base this season, although they have no idea when.
"There's not a whole lot anybody can forecast," Dipoto said. "It's based on his own tolerance."
By using Pujols at DH instead of first base, the Angels can minimize his movement but not eliminate it. Pujols said he did not feel good while legging out a double Saturday.
"You're always picking at a scab a little bit, when you're trying to play and trying to run," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Certainly, you don't want it to regress. He's swinging the bat real well.
"You want to keep it to where he can still DH and hopefully get him to first base at some point."
Alberto Callaspo keeps job
Although the Angels are delighted with the performance of rookie Luis Jimenez, they plan to give third base back to Alberto Callaspo when the veteran returns from a strained calf. Callaspo is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday.
Jimenez is batting .370, with 10 strikeouts in 27 at-bats.
"Alberto is huge for this team, very important," Scioscia said. "If Lucho [Jimenez's nickname] weren't stepping up and playing so well, you'd really be pointing out how much we miss Alberto.
"When a young player comes up and plays at the level Lucho is playing, there's no doubt he's carving out a role on the team."
Jimenez has not played a position besides third base since 2007, but Scioscia said he also can play first base.
"I think he's an animal," Mark Trumbo said. "He plays the game hard. His energy is off the charts, and he's definitely not intimidated.
"He's such a competitor, a fiery dude, he really wants to be here. He's excited for the opportunity. He wants to win. He loves to compete, and that's where he really shines. You can see that."