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Pujols likely to DH for remainder of season

Angels' slugger unable to play first base due to lingering right foot injury

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols has been nursing discomfort in his right foot for the last eight days, the Angels' first baseman revealed prior to Saturday's game against the Rangers. The pain has steadily intensified, and Pujols' concern heightened on Saturday morning, when compensating for it the night before caused him to awake with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.

A few minutes before the start of batting practice, Pujols asked Angels manager Mike Scioscia to move him from first base to designated hitter.

Unless the pain suddenly subsides, Pujols will basically have to DH the rest of the season.

"I can't," Pujols said of playing first base, which gives the Angels a significant defensive upgrade over C.J. Cron. "I just can't do it, dude."

Pujols first felt the pain -- next to his right big toe -- while rolling into a double-play ball against Cleveland in the sixth inning on Aug. 28, but he doesn't know how it happened. Since then, Pujols has started at DH in four of the Angels' seven games, including Saturday.

The ailment bothers the 35-year-old slightly in the batter's box, but more so on defense and on the basepaths. The pain, Pujols said, has "about the same" severity as the plantar fasciitis that struck his left foot in 2013 and forced him to sit out the last two months.

He doesn't plan to shut it down, though.

"I'm not going to throw in the towel on my teammates," said Pujols, who underwent an X-ray on Thursday that came back negative. "I'm going to play like this until the rest of the year. We're too close in the race for me to come out of the lineup. It's one of those aches and pains that I'm going to have to suck up like I've done before."

Pujols, with an extensive history of lower-body ailments throughout his 15-year career, entered Saturday batting .248/.310/.498 with a team-leading 35 home runs and 80 RBIs. He's used some additional padding and insoles in hopes of alleviating some of the pain, but none of it has worked.

If it doesn't improve by the start of next week, he'll undergo an MRI.

"It doesn't get any better; it gets worse," Pujols said, while sitting on the bat rack during batting practice. "It's bothering me right now. It's hurting."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.
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