When Albert Pujols cleared waivers and became a free agent after being designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, many speculated that he could look to finish his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The future Hall of Famer instead opted to stay in Southern California and sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the remainder of the 2021 season. With his usual No. 5 already taken by Corey Seager, Pujols is wearing No. 55 for the first time in his career.
The jersey number was last worn by Russell Martin in 2019 but resonates most with Orel Hershiser, who donned it during his 13 seasons with the Dodgers. Before assigning Pujols the number, the organization checked in with the 1988 World Series MVP.
“I think it is great. I really do,” Hershiser said of Pujols wearing the No. 55 during a recent SportsNet LA broadcast. “I think it’s an honor for people to even think about me and, ‘Oh, it shouldn’t happen or should happen.’ I think it is great and fantastic.
“The organization was actually nice enough to reach out to me and let me know that’s what they were going to do. I was completely behind it. (brief pause) Got to hit higher than .356, my Silver Slugger year. Let’s go.”
Pujols elaborated on why he chose No. 55 and explained it has a significant biblical meaning. “If you know the bible, (five) is the number of grace,” Pujols noted.
“So I feel (No.) 55 is double-grace. That’s how I looked at it. I talked to the family and they also agreed with me.”
Pujols excited to fill any role Dodgers need
Upon signing with the Dodgers, the expectation was that Pujols would mostly serve as a pinch-hitter while occasionally spelling Max Muncy at first base.
However, with Gavin Lux seeing more time at shortstop and Muncy shifting over to second base, Pujols has assumed a larger role than initially expected.
“I’m really excited to help this organization this year to get another ring,” Pujols said at his introductory press conference. “I’m here to do whatever. Pinch-hit, first base, whatever they want.
“I think at the end of the day I’m just excited to have this opportunity to wear this uniform. I’m glad to be here. A bunch of great guys in this clubhouse and they’re already making me feel at home. … I really love the gameplan Doc (Dave Roberts) and Andrew (Friedman) have.”
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