TEMPE, Ariz.—Albert Pujols will make his exhibition debut today about a week ahead of schedule. The Angels slugger who is recovering from October’s right knee surgery will bat third as designated hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Pujols had been limited to batting practice, ground balls hit right at him and light jogging for the first few weeks of camp, and he was not expected to play in a game until mid-March. But after running sprints on Friday and Saturday, he was deemed fit enough to play, though it won’t be at 100%.
“I’m not going to get a hit and try to stretch a single into a double or triple,” said Pujols, who recovered from a horrendous April to bat .273 with 30 home runs, 50 doubles and 105 runs batted in last season. “As long as I see some live pitching and get some at-bats, that’s the most important thing."
Manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols will have a "governor" on while running the bases.
"The only extra-base hit he's going to have," Scioscia said, "is a home run or a single."
The Angels will also field their projected opening-day outfield against the Reds, with Josh Hamilton in right, Peter Bourjos in center and Mike Trout in left. Hamilton was relegated to DH because of a sore quadriceps and throwing shoulder in his last two starts.