File-This June 25, 2013 file photo shows Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols hitting his helmet as he reacts to flying out against the Detroit Tigers in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit. Pujols is done for the season because of an injured left foot. The Angels made the announcement Monday Aug. 19, 2013 before playing Cleveland. Pujols hasn't played since July 26. He had been saying he wanted to return when his partially torn plantar fascia healed. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Albert Pujols finally agreed he should wait ‘til next year.
Pujols will miss the rest of the season to rest his injured left foot, the Los Angeles Angels announced Monday.
The $240 million slugger has given up his hope to play again this season when the Angels’ medical staff and front office advised him to give several months of rest to his partially torn plantar fascia before spring training.
While sitting out the past three weeks, Pujols repeatedly said he hoped to return for the final two weeks of the Angels’ dismal season if possible. He eventually had to acknowledge the plan made sense only as a salve to his pride.
“It’s not an easy decision, as competitive as I am,” Pujols said at his locker before the Angels opened a series against Cleveland. “But I also understand that we (need) to look beyond the season.”
The three-time NL MVP hasn’t played since July 26, when he partially tore his troublesome plantar fascia in Oakland. Pujols had been rehabilitating the injury with hopes of playing in September, but the struggling Angels’ inability to get into playoff contention made that plan increasingly unwise.
Pujols consulted with owner Arte Moreno and general manager Jerry Dipoto before agreeing to shut himself down for the year.
“It was a decision of the organization, Arte and Jerry, because I don’t make a decision here,” said Pujols, who had career lows of 17 homers and 64 RBIs this year. “I put my uniform on and get ready to play. They said, ‘This is what’s best for the organization in the long run,’ and they came and brought it to me. And I just told them, ‘Whatever you guys want to do, I’m all for it.’ It’s definitely hard, as I want to be out there, but I also understand that I can’t be selfish and put myself out there.”
The injury has hindered Pujols all season, forcing the first baseman to be a designated hitter for 65 of his career-low 99 games. Pujols will finish with fewer than 30 homers for the first time in his remarkable 13-season career, along with career lows in batting average (.258), on-base percentage (.330) and slugging percentage (.437).
Those numbers aren’t exactly encouraging for a player who will be 34 years old in January with eight seasons still remaining on the third-biggest contract in major league history. The Angels are determined to give Pujols every chance to fix his formidable game in the spring.
“The doctors think it’s the best course of action,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “For Albert, everything would have to have been perfectly aligned for him to come back and play. I think by trying to get to that level, maybe there were some things that would have been at risk in setting the healing process back. I think that it’s a decision that everyone can be at peace with and get everyone ready for next year.”
Pujols has been diligent in his rehabilitation while still hoping to play this season. His foot came out of a walking boot last week, and he even did 45 minutes of cardiovascular work Monday before announcing he was done for the year.
Despite a lavish payroll and sky-high expectations, the Angels are all but certain to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season in their worst stretch under Scioscia. Los Angeles has lost 23 of 34 heading into its series with the Indians.
“Just look at it,” Pujols said. “Unless in two weeks something happens and we’re only two or three games out ... is it worth it to come back and put yourself in a situation where you take that risk? Or just wait six or seven months and get yourself ready for spring training? That’s the decision we all came to.”