The Los Angeles Dodgers made several moves last month with an eye on adding depth to the organization, including the signing of Albert Pujols for the remainder of the 2021 season.
The 41-year-old had been designated for assignment and eventually released by the L.A. Angels after reports suggested he was unhappy with his role, which Pujols later refuted.
Some speculated Pujols could look to finish his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he instead opted to remain in Southern California and join the Dodgers for what both sides hope is another World Series run.
When news broke of Pujols signing with the organization, Justin Turner revealed the Dodgers clubhouse initially was both excited and confused, via the “Holding Kourt Podcast”:
“It was honestly like a weird energy. Guys were like excited and guys were like, ‘Wait. OK, he’s coming, so what’s his role going to be?’ There were all kinds of questions. The amazing thing is from the moment he got into the clubhouse, he’s the first guy there every single day. First guy. … He has just been unbelievable.
“I can’t say enough good things about his work ethic, how extremely excited he is to be in a Dodger uniform. I have never seen a guy more happy to be here. So happy and so excited. And just to hear him constantly say how much fun he’s having every single day. ‘I just love this. This is so much fun. It’s so much fun playing baseball again.’ That’s a good feeling, because that’s a culture we worked so hard to build over the last six, seven years.”
It’s not often a team adds a future Hall of Famer midseason, so Turner and his teammates’ reactions were right on par for what would be expected.
The initial plan for Pujols was to serve as a pinch-hitter and occasionally spell Max Muncy at first base. But with Corey Seager on the 10-day injured list, he has gotten more playing time due to Gavin Lux shifting to shortstop and Muncy getting some reps at second base.
Bellinger thrilled to have Pujols as lockermate
Having recently returned off the IL, Bellinger crossed paths with Pujols for the first time as teammates. “It’s amazing, man. I’ve heard nothing but unbelievable things,” Bellinger said of Pujols.
“Obviously I knew that playing against him, but now he’s part of the team. I’m lucky enough to be locker mates next to him. “I know I’m going to take full advantage of being next to a future Hall of Famer and try to learn as much from him as I can.”
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