Retired Pujols believes moving into coaching `will happen'
Albert Pujols is open to transitioning into coaching. Eventually. Just not yet.
The retired slugger popped into the St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp on Thursday to visit with former teammates and while he believes coaching or some other role within Major League Baseball will happen, he's not eager to give a timetable.
“Listen 23 years and 24 years, following a schedule from February all the way to October is tough,” said Pujols, who retired in October after 22 years split mostly between the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels. “Now I have the freedom to have my own schedule. That’s something that I’m grateful about.”
Pujols spent a week as a special assistant with the Angels in Arizona shortly after camp opened but the dalliance was just that. He's embracing retired life after a career that ended with 703 home runs, fourth on the career list.
The almost certain future Hall-of-Famer likely wouldn't have to look to hard to find work whenever the time comes. Yet he's in no hurry. There's too much golf to play, to many members of his family to visit for now. He even made an appearance in the NBA Celebrity game as part of the league's All-Star weekend last month.
Pujols stressed he wasn't going to put a “stamp” on when the right time will be to return to the game in a larger capacity.
“If it happens next year it's great,” he said. "Knowing myself I think I’ll let that moment come and I’ll revisit if it’s something I think that works, I’ll do it for sure.”
Phildelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper thinks he could be ready as soon as the All-Star break as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery.
The two-time National League MVP said Thursday the team has solidified mid-July as the potential target date for Harper to return.
Harper spent most of last season as Philadelphia's designated hitter after initially injuring his right elbow in April. He underwent surgery in November, not long after helping the Phillies to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
The 30-year-old Harper intends to serve as a designated hitter whenever he gets back in the lineup. Returning to right field could take considerably longer.
"Of course, I want to play the outfield,” Harper said “I want to get back out there and be in front of the fans in right field doing my stuff and hearing it from all the teams (fans) in the league, too.”
SETBACK FOR RODÓN
The New York Yankees will have to wait a bit for their investment in Carlos Rodón to pay off.
General manager Brian Cashman said the veteran left-handed pitcher will begin the season on the injured list due to a left forearm strain. Rodón won't throw for 7-10 days, squashing any chance he’ll will be ready by opening day.
The Yankees signed Rodón to a $162 million, six-year contract during the offseason after Rodón put together back-to-back All-Star seasons, first with the Chicago White Sox in 2021 and then with the San Francisco Giants last summer.
HILL IMPRESSIVE AS 43 LOOMS
There appears to be plenty of life left in Rich Hill's left arm on the eve of his 43rd birthday.
The 17-year veteran allowed one run and two hits for Pittsburgh on Thursday in a 10-7 loss to Detroit. Hill, who turns 43 on Saturday, mixed speeds and arm angles to keep the Tigers off balance.
Hill's fastball topped out at 89 mph. His array of breaking balls dipped as low as 68 mph. He caught Detroit's Justyn-Henry Malloy on three pitches in the second and followed it up by fanning Kerry Carpenter on a slider that hit just 68.8 mph on the radar gun.
The Pirates signed Hill to an $8 million. one-year deal, hoping he will provide both a boost on the mound and in the clubhouse for a team littered with young players, particularly in the starting rotation.
SOTO ON HIS WAY BACK
Phillies reliever Gregory Soto threw 24 pitches over one inning during a simulated game one day after reporting for spring training. Soto’s arrival from the Dominican Republic was delayed due to visa problems.
The two-time All-Star was obtained from the Detroit Tigers as part of a five-player deal in January.
“I knew I was getting to a new team, and I wanted to get familiar with the new personnel, new teammates,” Soto said through an interpreter. “So, the longer I was in the DR the less time was going to have here."
Soto was able to work out at the Phillies' academy in the Dominican Republic, which is about an hour away from his home.
The visa delay prevented Soto from pitching in this month’s World Baseball Classic.
“Right now it hurts a little,” Soto said. “But I know this is my priority.”
BOONE GOES YARD
Aaron Boone's still got it.
The New York Yankees skipper celebrated his 50th birthday by taking a little batting practice, a round that included a shot over the left field fence at George M Steinbrenner Field.
Boone, who hit 126 homers during a a 12-year major league career and famously ended the 2003 AL Championship Series with a walk-off homer against Boston's Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning in Game 7, dropped his bat after the ball left his bat while slugger Giancarlo Stanton roared his approval just outside the batting cage.
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL
Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has placed an emphasis on team bonding and one of the activities concluded with pitcher Dean Kremer winning the clubhouse ping pong tournament.
“We have a few things,” Hyde said. “We have a dart tournament going on. We’ll have some basketball stuff during March Madness. See who’s got the best jumper on the team. It’s just the same thing every single day (at spring training). Just try to keep it light.”
Kremer defeated first baseman Ryan O’Hearn in a best-of-three matchup. Kremer was departing Thursday to join Team Israel in Miami, Florida for the World Baseball Classic.
Hyde jokingly said the ping pong tournament was the reason that Kremer hadn’t reported to Team Israel.
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Will Graves, The Associated Press