JUPITER, Fla. — Adam Wainwright, the best player of his generation in St. He remembers exactly where he was on that sad December morning when he left the Louis Cardinals.
Ga, St. “I was on the number 4 golf course at home at Frederica Golf Club when I found out he had signed with the Angels,” said Wainwright, who lives on Simons Island. “It was a life. – the changing, the changing moment, how big it was.”
This was in 2011, just after Albert Pujols won the trophy. second championship with the cardinals. For a farewell season of the Pujols, St. A day like Monday when he signed a $2.5 million deal to return to St. Louis seemed impossible. he was 31 then Angels gave him $240 million Playing for them for the next ten years and a personal service contract for the next ten years after retirement. It looked like the permanent pouring of a perfect fit.
“Was it a sad day or a dark day?” John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ head of baseball operations, said Monday morning. “Yes, of course. But in this industry, especially baseball, you have to keep thinking ahead. You have to look forward.”
And so both sides advanced and split, without ever enjoying the title again. Without the cardinals, the Pujols made just two outings for the postseason. Without the Pujols, the Cardinals made seven but only reached one World Series, losing six games to Boston in 2013.
Pujols collected milestones along the way: his 500th and 600th home runs and his 3,000th innings. He is the only player to reach these criteria with at least two championships in his career.
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st. The departure from Louis marked a clear dividing line, and the Pujols’ worst season with the Cardinals was better than the best for the Angels. Still, the family foundation St. Pujols has always felt connected to him because he kept it in St.
“Yeah, I felt like I might be wearing a different uniform, but I felt like I never left,” he said, adding that he often returns for charity events. “Whether I wear a Cardinal uniform, Angels or Dodgers, people still treat me the same way, they never change. That’s what makes Cardinals fans so special. They love you when you put on their uniform, but they still love you because you’re part of this organization.”
Now – at 42, as the oldest player in the majors – Pujols is officially back, largely due to his performance after the Angels released him last May. pujoles joined the Dodgers and played in 85 games, reaching .254 with 12 home runs. Overall, it squashed lefties for a slowing percentage of 0.603. With The designated kicker in the National League Now, Pujols can make an impact.
“Oh, you’ve got something left,” said Oliver Marmol, the cardinals’ first-year manager. “He’s got more than one thing left. Albert wants to play this year because he can help a team win.”
Cardinals defeated by Pujols’ Dodgers NL joker game Last October, he will open the season without his two better young pitchers, right-back Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes, who has shoulder injuries. The team, however, has signed two free agents – left-handed Steven Matz and right-handed Drew VerHagen, who has revived his career in Japan – and 39-year-old catcher Yadier Molina, who still manages the roster.
Molina and Pujols have said for sure that this will be their last season, and Wainwright, 41, said he leaned in that way. All three St. Louis, Pujols lend a particularly spectacular flair to an organization that prides itself on tradition.
“This organization has never shut the door on me and I have never shut the door of the organization,” Pujols said. “This is just a great opportunity.”
Molina and Wainwright were eager to reunite with Pujols and had been regularly harassing him on FaceTime about their plans. When Pujols arrived at the team’s spring training complex on Monday, he found Wainwright asleep before the start and woke him up with a bear hug. During the game, fans roared as Pujols walked from the right corner towards the Cardinals’ hideout. She smiled to keep from crying.
“I’m a pretty emotional guy,” Pujols said. “It won’t take that long.”
The Pujols played 76 games in first place last season, but know they can’t replace Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, a four-time Gold Glove winner and one of the league’s most reliable sluggers. Pujols said he would do whatever Marmol wanted and hoped to mentor younger players like teammates like Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria did for him as a rookie in 2001.
Wainwright sees it already. After his trip on Monday, he noticed that some of the younger actors were dressed to go for the day. Wainwright said that when these players saw Pujols and Molina heading towards the batting cage, they were back in their training gear and tagged.
Pujols can offer such intangible help through his guidance and example. But he did not sign to become ambassador. Pujols are back for a reason.
“Every time Albert is motivated,” Wainwright said, “it’s a very, very dangerous thing.”