He's home! Pujols walks off in LIDOM debut

November 1st, 2021

Dominican baseball fans had to wait more than 20 years to see play winter ball in his native country. But it didn't take long for Pujols to make an impact.

In his debut with the Leones del Escogido, the 41-year-old came through with a walk-off hit to beat the Tigres del Licey 3-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning on Sunday at the Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.

“I am very happy,” said Pujols in Spanish in a club press release. “It was a special day, something I have been dreaming for a long time, especially winning the game. I hope the fans enjoyed it. I felt so many emotions. It was a historic moment for me and for my career.”

Pujols hit a soft grounder down the third-base line off right-hander Jonathan Aro. Licey third baseman Dawel Lugo’s wild throw to first allowed Brett Sullivan to score the winning run, unleashing a celebration around Pujols near first base.

Pujols, who finished the afternoon 1-for-5 with the winning RBI, was acquired in a trade last week between Escogido and the Gigantes del Cibao for outfielder Melky Mesa and left-handed pitcher Edward Paredes. Pujols was Cibao’s first pick in the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League’s rookie draft in 2002.

During a press conference in the Dominican Republic on Friday, Pujols said he didn’t feel like the time had come to say goodbye to baseball.

“I’ve always said that I’m going to retire when I feel it’s time,” Pujols said in Spanish. “I don’t think my time to retire has come. I don’t want to sit in my house next year, knowing that I can still keep playing.”

Efraín Ruiz Pantin is part of the editorial team of LasMayores.com, the official MLB page in Spanish. Follow him on Twitter @efrainruizp.