Albert Pujols is learning that hitting a baseball is tougher when the number attached to your name has a dollar sign. After a weak opening week with the Los Angeles Angels, he has a contract ($240 million) more imposing than his batting average (.222). He has two RBI.
"I'm a human," he said. "Sometimes you want to press a little bit and try to do too much."
Pujols went 1-for-4 Friday with a strikeout and a double-play grounder as the Angels lost to the Yankees 5-0 in New York's home opener. He's 6-for-27 and his only RBI have come on a groundout in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City and a single in a 6-5 defeat at Minnesota. For the first time since 2008, the three-time NL MVP is homerless in his first seven games.
After splurging to sign Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson for $317.5 million, the Angels are 2-5 and are on a three-game losing streak.
"If this was the 17th day or the 20th day, then I'd say, all right, maybe there's something going on," Torii Hunter said. "But with Pujols, I'm not worried. The dude works hard, tries to figure out things, and he will."
Pujols led AL players in spring training with seven homers and an .850 slugging percentage.
"It always seems like every time a player has a great spring, they start the season real slow. And when you struggle in spring training, you break out early in the year," Pujols said.
"This isn't about Albert," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "This about our team doing some things better on the mound and playing a little more fundamentally sound baseball in some areas. Albert is going to be there, but we have to be more than Albert, and we are."
Two stellar starts for Adcock
North Hardin graduate Nate Adcock, a Royals prospect, pitched six shutout innings Thursday for his second win in two starts this season at Triple-A Round Rock. Adcock (2-0), who pitched in the majors at the end of last season, hasn't given up a run in 111⁄3 innings. He has seven strikeouts. Adcock was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA last season with Kansas City.
Blanton happy to be healthy
Joe Blanton, the former UK standout who pitched seven strong innings in the Phillies' victory against the Marlins on Thursday, was pleased with his first start following an injury-plagued 2011 season. The 31-year-old made only eight starts last season because of elbow problems.
"It's fun just to be back out there and not have anything weighing on my mind," Blanton said. "By the end of spring, I had a feeling my stuff was pretty good. I had a lot of positives coming out of spring."
Cook working his way back
Aaron Cook, a Fort Campbell native who played 10 years in the majors for the Rockies, signed with the Red Sox in the off-season and has made two starts for the team's Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket. Cook (2-0) pitched seven shutout innings in his debut and got his second victory Friday night against Rochester. He gave up two earned runs and had three strikeouts in five innings.