Legendary slugger Albert Pujols says he’d like to become big-league manager someday

TEMPE, Ariz. — Albert Pujols was dressed in a red Angels hoodie and gray baseball pants for his first day in camp. If you didn’t know any better, you could confuse the 700-home run legend as the manager, simply by how he carries himself.

Pujols, however, is only in camp for a week as a guest instructor. He’s not on a major-league coaching staff quite yet. But, he used the opportunity early Monday to make it clear that it’s something he wants in the future.

“Yeah,” Pujols responded to that very question. “I think, why not? I think if the opportunity is right one day, I think I’ll be ready for that.”

Pujols was in camp for the second straight season as part of his 10-year, $10 million post-retirement personal services contract that he inked with the Angels in 2012.

He’s been all over the map, though. Last year, he started working with the MLB commissioner’s office as a special assistant. He’s also tried his hand at broadcasting. He recently took the managerial job of the Los Leones del Escogido, a Dominican team that Pujols grew up watching.

“It’s an opportunity to get a job up here in the big leagues one day,” Pujols said.

It’s clear that the surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer wants to stay heavily involved in the game. And for all the gigs he has now, actually managing in the big leagues might trump them all.

He’s played for some legends of the game — Tony La Russa, Mike Scioscia and Joe Maddon. If he were to get an opportunity, Pujols said, he would incorporate all their styles into his.

“I was blessed to have an opportunity to have one of the best, Tony La Russa. Then I went from St. Louis to another probably future Hall of Fame manager in Scioscia. Then you got Joe and (Dave) Roberts. And then two years ago with Oli Marmol, who has a lot of things to offer to the game,” Pujols said.

“You learn a lot. You pick their brain. I was always that kind of player that asked questions.”

Pujols said he plans to get a meal with La Russa, his ex-Cardinals skipper, while he’s in Arizona so they can talk managing.

The 44-year-old isn’t necessarily gunning for an MLB managerial job. He’s focused on what’s in front of him, similar to how he operated as a player. But if and when it happens, he’ll be ready.

“I think Albert is one of the smartest guys in the game,” said Angels manager Ron Washington. “As far as him managing, I won’t approach him. He has to approach me. Because he probably knows more than I do.”

Pujols’ perspective on Mike Trout’s injuries

Trout and Pujols were always close as teammates. The Angels signed Pujols right around when Trout first debuted in the league, and Pujols was there as Trout blossomed into the game’s best player.

More recently, however, Trout has been beset by injuries. A calf injury in 2021. A back injury in 2022. A broken hamate bone last season. They’ve limited him each season. And Pujols has brought some perspective.

“It sucks, man. Injuries suck,” Pujols said. “It’s part of the game. You need to look at how you deal. Are you going to let it affect you? Are you going to train and get yourself ready?

“I’ve seen Trout train. There’s nobody that trains harder than him in the locker room. But at the end of the day, when you take the field, there are some things that you cannot control.”

Pujols said he and Trout have communicated about the health issues, and he sympathizes with his good friend. The ailments hurt even more when you know what you’re capable of when you’re healthy.

Regardless of Trout’s health, Pujols is confident in the difference Trout can make on a younger team still trying to find its direction.

“Besides being one of the best players in the game, he’s really good at learning and following guys,” Pujols said. “He was like my shadow. Me and Torii Hunter. When you see guys like that, it’s because they want to be a leader. There’s nobody in that locker room that wants to win and win a championship for the Angels more than Mike. We talk about it all the time.”


Rosenthal: Mike Trout is still focused on winning in Anaheim, and another MVP trophy too

(File photo of Mike Trout and Joe Maddon during a spring training game in 2020: Masterpress / Getty Images)

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