The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Albert Pujols to help them against left-handed pitching and provide a veteran bat off the bench, and while he has filed that role nicely, the future Hall of Famer is providing even more off the field as a leader and energetic presence.
Pujols has earned the nickname “Tío Albert” from fans and teammates, and while he is on the bench, he is cheering for those playing and giving hugs either on the field or in the dugout.
“Albert probably cheers for his teammates more than anybody. It seems like he’s genuinely happy for everyone,” Chris Taylor said. “He’s more happy for you than you are for yourself. Knowing that and coming in, seeing him waiting for you to give you a big bear hug is a pretty cool feeling.”
It is clear Pujols is having a lot of fun playing for the Dodgers. David Freese, a friend and former teammate of Pujols, even took to Twitter to say how happy he is that Pujols is enjoying his time in L.A.
In June, Pujols called playing for the Dodgers is “the most fun I’ve had in a while.”
“I can be really intimidating sometimes because of the way I stay so focused on the game, and they see a part of me that they can come and approach me whether I’m playing in the game or not,” Pujols explained.
“Just come and talk baseball, life, parenting or whatever it is. I believe that’s why God has put me here, and I’m enjoying every moment. Being with this young talent, it’s just unbelievable.”
Pujols setting records
Even with largely being limited to a role off the bench and making spot starts, Pujols recently had something to celebrate for his own career as he set an MLB record for most games played by a player born in the Dominican Republic.
When Pujols started at first base against the Colorado Rockies, it was the 2,934th game of his career, passing future Hall of Famer and former Dodger Adrian Beltre.
Pujols originally debuted in 2001 for the St. Louis Cardinals and played 1,705 regular-season games for them before signing a 10-year contract with the L.A. Angels, where he played 1,181 games prior to being released and signing with the Dodgers.
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