Pujols back with Angels as special assistant

February 22nd, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Fresh off a Hall of Fame-worthy 22-year career that saw him become the fourth player in AL/NL history to reach 700 career homers, has rejoined the Angels’ organization as a special assistant to the club.

Pujols arrived at camp on Tuesday and met with the media on Wednesday to discuss his role with the Angels. He said he always planned to honor his 10-year personal services contract he signed as part of his original 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels, even after he was released by the club during the 2021 season.

“It was just part of the business, that’s how it is, and there’s nothing holding me back from anything,” Pujols said. “I’m really happy to be back here. What happened two years ago, I don’t hold any grudges on anything. That’s part of the business.”

Pujols, who played with the Angels from 2012-21, said he plans to serve as a special instructor at Spring Training this week and will also head to his native Dominican Republic during the season to help with the club’s prospects there. He said he’s open to whatever general manager Perry Minasian wants and is excited to help the organization, but envisions himself acting more as a mentor to the players than a front office executive.

“Whatever Perry and the organization need, I’m here to help out,” Pujols said. “I’m just trying to assist him, but it’s not my job to be in the front office. It’s more about working with younger guys however I can.”

Angels superstar was pleased to see his former teammate back in camp and thinks Pujols can help impart wisdom on the younger players. Trout credits Pujols for taking him under his wing when he was an inexperienced player and believes he was instrumental in his development.

“He just brings so much insight and can answer any questions you might have because he’s been through it all,” Trout said. “Even myself, I have questions. He’s just been through so many situations. Mentally, physically, he’s been through it all. So if you’re going through something, it’s good to talk to him. I was very fortunate to be around veteran guys, and he’s one of the best to ever do it.”

Pujols, 43, said he never wavered from his decision to retire after 22 seasons with the Cardinals, Dodgers and Angels. He reached the 700-homer mark with the Cardinals last season, retiring with 703 blasts. He also added that St. Louis didn’t ask him about a role with the organization after retirement, because the Cardinals were aware he planned to honor his post-playing contract with the Angels.

He said he’s enjoying retirement right now -- he attended the Super Bowl and was a participant in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game this month -- and he’s not ready to coach full-time. He wouldn’t rule out coaching in the future but said he’s currently focused on his role as a special assistant, which allows him more flexibility after a lengthy career in baseball that started as a Minor Leaguer in 2000.

“I was blessed to play for 23 years as a professional, and I’d do it again if I had to, but I’m really happy where I’m at right now in my life,” Pujols said. “My job is just the same as a lot of veteran guys who helped me back in the early days. It’s my job to help these guys get better and become the superstars they want to be.”

Angels manager Phil Nevin said he’s thrilled to have Pujols in camp and that he plans to have other former Angels return as guest instructors this year, including Troy Glaus, Torii Hunter, Adam Kennedy, John Lackey, Darin Erstad and Chuck Finley. 

“To have somebody like Albert, it’s great to have his presence around,” Nevin said. “I told our guys to use him. He’s more than ready to field questions and tell stories or work in the cages or on the field. We’re fortunate to have him here. I’m not sure we could find a better one than this guy.”