Albert Pujols showing an impressive glove lately for Angels

first_imgANAHEIM — Albert Pujols has not only been playing a lot of first base lately for the Angels, but he’s also playing pretty well.Pujols made a diving stop to save at least one run in Friday’s 10-inning victory, a day after he made a nice sprawling backhand play.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.“That’s why Albert was such a special player for all those years in St. Louis,” Manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday. “You can see the Gold Glove caliber defense he played for all these years. When he’s healthy and feeling good and has his legs under him, he still brings that presence at first base. There is no doubt he’s made a difference.”The downside, though, is that every game Pujols plays at first puts more strain on his legs. Pujols, 38, was in the lineup at first for the 53rd time on Saturday night, more than the 34 games he played in the last two years combined. After his dive on Friday night, Pujols jogged awkwardly enough that Scioscia said he was initially worried that he might be hurt.“You are concerned, but Albert is tough,” Scioscia said. “He’s playing at a high level on both sides of the ball. We’ll look to get him the rest he needs to stay at this level, but he’s tough.”Sunday would be a natural day for Pujols to get a day back at DH, if not off entirely. It’s a day game after a night game, and the Seattle Mariners are starting left-hander Marco Gonzales, so the Angels may chose to sit Shohei Ohtani. Also, it’s the day before an off day, so Pujols could have two straight days without playing first.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone center_img Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Ward, the Angels’ first-round pick in 2015, is hitting a combined .351 with a .998 OPS, splitting his season between Double-A and Triple-A. It’s a dramatic improvement from his .787 OPS last year, split between Class-A and Double-A.Scioscia said that “taking some of the pressure” off him by moving from catcher to third base has helped his offense.“From the offensive side, he’s really blossomed,” Scioscia said. “I think the third base switch is great for him.”Scioscia said defensively, Ward is “making progress.”Ward, 24, is due to be added to the 40-man roster this winter already, so that makes it more likely that he could get promoted sometime this year. His best chance is probably if Ian Kinsler is traded or hurt, which would allow David Fletcher to move to second and Ward to play third. If Kinsler remains on the roster, Ward isn’t likely to be called up before September.ALSOOhtani has increased the intensity of his throwing program. He is now throwing in a pitching motion, including breaking balls, as he plays catch. He’s still at a distance of about 90 feet, though. Pitchers generally extend to about 150 feet before getting on a mound for a bullpen session. Ohtani, who is recovering from a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, could be back by the start of September, if all goes well…Since Martín Maldonado was traded, Francisco Arcia, a left-handed hitter, has started the two games against right-handed pitchers and José Briceño, a right-handed hitter, started the game against a lefty. Scioscia said the two catchers will split the time, but it won’t necessarily be a pure platoon based on offense.UP NEXTAngels (RHP Felix Peña, 1-3, 3.34) vs. Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales, 11-5, 3.38), Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM). Looking ahead, the Angels are about to play three straight games on the artificial turf at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field. Although the surface is tougher on the outfielders than the infielders — the infield is all dirt — it’s still a consideration.WATCHING WARDProspect Taylor Ward has made a strong impression on the Angels while putting up big numbers this year in the minors, Scioscia said.last_img

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