Angels easing Pujols in to Cactus League
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols had a normal offseason and has pronounced himself completely healthy, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia will not be playing him at first base on an everyday basis once Cactus League games start.
"He's not at that point," Scioscia said. "And we wouldn't do it anyway. If he felt great, there's no doubt about getting him in the flow in little bits. You're not going to just throw him out there and have him play 15 straight Spring Training games because he feels good, because I think by Game 16 you might be facing a problem."
Pujols, whose 2013 season ended after 99 games with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia, stayed mostly away from arduous activity Wednesday during the Angels' first full workout.
Scioscia said the goal was for Pujols to play first base "on a regular basis" when the season starts but that they would take it slow and have backup plans if the 34-year-old is not ready by Opening Day on March 31.
Veteran first baseman Carlos Pena is in camp, and his chances of making the team as a reserve could hinge largely on Pujols' health.
Raul Ibanez, the 41-year-old designated hitter who has spent the vast majority of his career in the outfield, will get plenty of reps this spring at first base -- a position he has not spent much time at since 2005.
"We'll see," Scioscia said of Ibanez playing first base. "We're not talking about on an everyday basis, but we'll see what his proficiency is, his comfort level, and hopefully we'll be able to tap into that."