Saturday, March 09, 2013 8:06 pm
Pujols hits 1st HR of 2013 in Angels' 8-6 loss
BY JIM RICHARDSAssociated Press
Pujols hit his first spring training home run, a third-inning drive off Juan Nicasio on Saturday during the Los Angeles Angels' 8-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
"I hit seven home runs last spring and had my worst start to a season," the three-time NL MVP said. "I come down here just to get my quality at-bats and get in games and get my legs in shape and my timing on, and hopefully by opening day, get it going. Obviously, you always want to have a good spring training. You always want to swing the bat well. But in the end, as long as you get your work, I think that's the most important thing."
After leaving the St. Louis Cardinals to sign a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels, Pujols got off to an awful start that saw him hitting .194 with no homers and five RBIs through May 4.
He finished at .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs, but the season was sub-par for him and the Angels didn't make the playoffs.
Coming off right knee surgery during the offseason, he was 0 for 3 Tuesday against Cincinnati in his spring training debut. Pujols again was the designated hitter against Colorado and went 1 for 3.
Pujols struck out in the first against Nicasio and also grounded into a double play in the fifth against Josh Outman.
"My timing is not there," Pujols said. "It'll take a couple more weeks to get me where I want to be. I think that's what spring training is all about, to get your at-bats and get your timing on. The same way with the pitchers. They're not where they want to be on opening day. Usually, to me, it's probably by the middle of April when I feel really good."
Pujols said that he had no pain at all and would play first base when he's ready. He ran bases after Saturday's game.
"Right now, I'm just happy to get my at-bats," he said. "We have a pretty good game plan. I don't want to rush this thing. I'm taking some groundballs and that's what I needed."
Troy Tulowitzki hit his first home run of the exhibition season, a third-inning shot off Jason Vargas. Tulowitzki's home-run total dropped from 30 in 2011 to eight last year, when a left groin pull limited him to 181 at-bats
Tulowitzki had two hits and is hitting .278 this spring training.
"All signs are good that he's good to be rolling," new Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "A lot of the first three weeks have been about preparing him physically so he can do what he needs to do at that position. It's a demanding position."
Making his second start, Vargas allowed four runs and eight hits in three innings.
"They were swinging at a lot of fastballs today," Vargas said. "I was up. and they took advantage. If you leave it up, you'll get hammered."
Nicasio, in his third start and fourth appearance, gave up four runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.
"I didn't throw my breaking ball for a strike," Nicasio said. "It's a good team, good hitters. They can wait on the fastball."
Kole Calhoun hit a two-run homer in the seventh against Wilton Lopez.
NOTES: Angels manager Mike Scioscia missed the game due to a death in the family. He said he will return Sunday.