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Los Angeles slugger Albert Pujols has been released by the Angels. Pujols is fifth in major league history with 667 career homers, and 13th in with 3,253 hits. He is the oldest active player in the majors. David Zalubowski/Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Albert Pujols was cut by the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday, abruptly ending the 41-year-old superstar slugger’s decade with his second major league team.

The Angels surprisingly announced the move to designate Pujols for assignment one day after he wasn’t in the lineup for the slumping club’s fourth consecutive loss. The decision was made after Pujols, dissatisfied with irregular playing time, had a late-night meeting with general manager Perry Minasian and team president John Carpino.

Pujols, who is batting .198, is determined to play first base regularly for another team after he clears waivers, Angels Manager Joe Maddon said. Pujols is fifth in major league history with 667 homers and 13th with 3,253 hits.

“He wants to play, and he wants to be in the field,” Maddon said. “Hopefully he’s going to get that opportunity somewhere else, and believe me, we’re all going to be rooting for him.”

The three-time NL MVP for St. Louis was in the final season of a 10-year, $240 million contract, but Pujols’ determination was incompatible with the Angels’ desire to make everyday players out of first baseman Jared Walsh and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who have both significantly outperformed Pujols as two of the American League’s top hitters.

“Albert is not a bench player,” said Minasian, the club’s first-year GM. “Him being on the bench would not do him any good, and would not do the team any good. He’s as motivated as he’s ever been. If the situation was different and there were at-bats for him to play here, it would be different.”

A 10-time All-Star and the oldest active player in the majors, Pujols had five homers and 12 RBI this year while playing in 24 of the Angels’ 29 games. After a decent start, Pujols had been in a 7-for-43 slump since April 20, hitting three homers in that stretch.

Minasian said the decision to cut ties with Pujols was “really difficult. These are never easy, especially with a guy like this who loves the game as much as anybody I’ve ever met, who works as hard as anybody I’ve ever met. But since I’ve taken this job, to me it’s about what’s best for the organization moving forward. It really weighed on me. I think it weighed on all of us.”

Pujols joined the Angels after 11 successful seasons with the Cardinals during which he won three league MVP awards, earned two World Series rings, received nine All-Star selections, won an NL batting title and hit 445 homers while establishing himself as one of the greatest sluggers of his generation.

Angels owner Arte Moreno persuaded Pujols to leave for the West Coast with a lavish contract, but the Angels have not won a playoff game during the concurrent tenures of Pujols and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout at the heart of their lineup.

And though Pujols has crossed several statistical milestones with the Angels, the contrast in the two halves of his career is stark.

He batted .328 with a 1.037 OPS in St. Louis, but hit .256 with a .758 OPS in Anaheim along with 222 homers – just under half his total for the Cardinals. Pujols also earned just one All-Star selection with the Angels, back in 2015.

The Angels made only one postseason appearance in Pujols’ nine full seasons, winning the AL West title and promptly getting swept by Kansas City in 2014. The club is on skids of five straight losing seasons and six straight non-playoff campaigns since then.

Pujols’ achievements with Los Angeles have been mostly milestones, including the 500th and 600th homers and the 3,000th hit of his career. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Pujols are the only players in major league history with 3,000 hits and 600 homers.

“He’s had a ton of historic milestones here as an Angel over the last 10 seasons, many that our fans really cherish,” said Carpino, who hopes the franchise will be able to honor Pujols with a more appropriate farewell in the future. “All we have from Albert is positive memories from his time here.”

But Pujols has been a below-average statistical player for the past half-decade. His career average dipped under .300 last season for the first time in his two decades in the majors.

Pujols hasn’t performed at a level commensurate with his pay for many years, although Moreno knew the near-certain consequences of such a long contract – and baseball’s salary structure all but guarantees a great player will be grossly underpaid for the first half of his career and effectively overpaid for the rest.

Pujols is making $30 million this season in the final year of his contract, which includes a 10-year personal services contract with the Angels after his retirement. Carpino didn’t indicate any changes in the status of that portion of the agreement reached in late 2011.

Despite his age and declining production, Pujols said he wasn’t ready to decide whether this season would be his last when he reported to spring training in February. Maddon acknowledged early on that Pujols’ playing time could decline behind Ohtani and Walsh, two of Los Angeles’ top hitters alongside Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton.

Pujols still was in the opening day lineup for the 21st consecutive season, joining Pete Rose and Eddie Murray as the only major leaguers to reach that milestone.

But Walsh has been even better than the Angels expected since he started getting consistent playing time last year, while Ohtani has increased his workload sharply this season, no longer taking days off from his hitting duties around his pitching starts. Walsh’s .333 batting average and .988 OPS are both seventh in the AL, while Ohtani is second in the league with nine homers and eighth with 22 RBI.

That combination of developments left little playing time for Pujols in the long term, although he had been still playing fairly regularly because an injury to right fielder Dexter Fowler had forced the Angels to play Walsh in the outfield.

“He came to the ballpark with the same zeal on a daily basis,” Maddon said of Pujols. “The guy wants to be on the field. Doesn’t want to be on the bench of any kind. There will be a void, but this is an opportunity to grow, and that’s how the world works.”

Pujols is second in major league history with 2,112 RBI since they became an official statistic, trailing only Aaron. He is fifth in doubles (669), total bases (5,955) and extra-base hits (1,352). His doubles are the most ever by a right-handed hitter.

METS: Carlos Carrasco was shifted to the 60-day injured list, a surprise move that pushes back his season debut until May 28 at the earliest.

The 34-year-old right-hander has been sidelined by an injured right hamstring since spring training and had been making progress. He threw a simulated game Tuesday at the Mets’ spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the team said Wednesday that Carrasco was starting a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment this weekend.

Manager Luis Rojas did not mention Carrasco’s status change when he spoke with reporters before Thursday’s game against St. Louis, and the Mets sent a release later announcing the move to the 60-day IL.

Carrasco was acquired in January from Cleveland along with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. He was put on the 10-day IL on April 1, a move retroactive to March 29.

BLUE JAYS: Outfielder George Springer is not expected to be ready to return to Toronto’s lineup when his latest stint on the 10-day injured list ends May 13, General Manager Ross Atkins said.

Also Thursday, the Blue Jays activated left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu off the injured list to start an afternoon game against Oakland. Ryu left an April 25 start at Tampa Bay because of a strained right gluteal muscle.

Springer landed on the injured list Wednesday after aggravating his strained right quadriceps, with the move retroactive to May 3. Springer had been out of the lineup for two days before undergoing an MRI Wednesday morning.

“I would expect it would take more than just the IL stint,” Atkins said. “There’s a chance I’m wrong, but based on the information that I have right now, I would expect that it would take longer than that IL stint.”

Springer signed a team-record $150 million, six-year deal with the Blue Jays this offseason but didn’t make his season debut until April 28 because of two separate injuries, first a strained oblique muscle and later the quadriceps injury.

Yogi Berra, Lawrence Peter Berra, Del Crandall

Milwaukee Braves catcher Del Crandall poses in Milwaukee in 1958. Crandall, who helped the Braves win the 1957 World Series and was the last living member of the Boston Braves, died Wednesday at age 91. Associated Press

DEL CRANDALL, a star catcher who played on two Milwaukee Braves teams that reached the World Series in the 1950s before managing the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, has died. He was 91. He had Parkinson’s disease and died Wednesday in Mission Viejo, California, surrounded by family, son Bill Crandall said.

“Dad was a humble man,” Bill Crandall said. “He was just a good man, a good example of what a man should be. He treated everybody fairly. He didn’t take his celebrity seriously at all.”

Crandall was one of the best defensive catchers in the 1950s and ’60s. He was a member of the Braves’ 1957 World Series championship team as well as the 1958 squad that lost the World Series. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Crandall was the last surviving member of the Boston Braves.

He was a four-time Gold Glove winner who appeared in 11 All-Star Games over eight seasons. He played in each of the two All-Star Games that were held during the 1959, 1960 and 1962 seasons.

 

 


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