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Scioscia enjoying Albert's march to history

Angels manager appreciates slugger's value to the team
MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols took another a swing at history in the Angels' 11-5 loss to the Twins on Friday night. The Angels slugger is seeking to become just the ninth player in Major League history to earn entry into the 600-homer club.

Manager Mike Scioscia, who has over 31 combined years in the Majors as a player and manager, described what it's like to witness Pujols' historic run.

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ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols took another a swing at history in the Angels' 11-5 loss to the Twins on Friday night. The Angels slugger is seeking to become just the ninth player in Major League history to earn entry into the 600-homer club.

Manager Mike Scioscia, who has over 31 combined years in the Majors as a player and manager, described what it's like to witness Pujols' historic run.

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For one, he explained, the slugger's approach hasn't changed at all.

"Albert is such a professional to me," Scioscia said. "He's always locked in every at-bat. I don't think it's fair to say all of the sudden now he's putting more focus in these at-bats -- I think it's the opposite. I think Albert's been so good and has played for so long, and he's hit these milestones, that you know he has the ability to kind of bring himself to the level he needs to be, and he's not too amped up."

:: 600-HOME RUN CLUB ::

Since striking career homer Nos. 598 and 599 in back-to-back games, Pujols has had 14 at-bats without connecting with the 600th. Even from the field, where "it's not as prevailing a thought," said Scioscia, "when he steps in that batter's box, I don't think there's anybody that's not thinking of that."

Pujols has already recorded a handful of career milestones during his six-year career with the Angels. In 2014, he hit his 499th and 500th long balls in the same contest against Washington. Earlier this season, he moved in to 11th all-time in career RBIs, and now sits at 1,855.

Scioscia said it's apparent that Pujols and teammates are excited for him to reach the home run milestone (an injured Mike Trout has even made an appearance to watch his teammate bat), but the goal of winning the game keeps Pujols grounded amid the fanfare.

Video: MIN@LAA: Trout joins teammates in the dugout

"Albert's more than just a 600th home run," said Scioscia. "This guy is probably the toughest ballplayer I've ever seen. To be to go out there and play it 50 percent [healthy] and still be extremely productive, what he means to the team, and the dugout, and the clubhouse, you can see why he's been a winner his whole career."

Said Scioscia of the moment the slugger belts No. 600: "What it's going to mean to Albert, his family, those guys in that clubhouse, it's going to be special."

Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols