Wanting to set the record straight about his contract status, the Cardinals first baseman takes his story directly to the fans.
In an interview that is unusual in its length, 21 minutes, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols sat down with Katie Felts from KSDK NewsChannel 5 the other day and covered a wide variety of topics.
As this did not receive nearly as much coverage as some of the reports it intended to address, I am including the video here, as well as a brief summary.
Set at his workout facility, Pujols begins with a review of his off-season training schedule and his winter routine. The discussion moves to the Cardinals prospects for 2010, his view of Mark McGwire’s return and some of his great teammates in the past.
In an interesting reply, Albert avoided accepting the idea that the addition of Matt Holliday helped him personally, but did acknowledge the outfielder helped the team. Pujols relates how he told Jim Edmonds that the latter’s decision not to play last season was “a mistake” and offers a scouting report after having worked out with the new Brewers outfielder for two weeks.
Pujols then joked about his retirement day in 10-15 years. At that point, about 17 minutes in, he reiterated his desire to retire as a Cardinal. He mentioned several times this is a business.
Rather than risk misrepresenting Pujols, what follows are his direct comments concerning his future intentions and how the subject is being covered by the media.
“…The fans have embraced me. Playing in front of the best fans in baseball, I don’t think I can play anyplace else.
“Somebody wrote something a couple of weeks ago in an article about me that I don’t mind playing somewhere else. That is not what I said. What I said is that if I become a free agent, I am not going to sit down in my house. I love this game. I need to play somewhere. If the Cardinals don’t give me the opportunity to keep playing, it will have to be somewhere else to play.
“The headline was ‘Albert Pujols doesn’t mind playing somewhere else,’ like that I want to leave. C’mon guys. That is getting old. I hope you can play this piece tonight. It is getting old about my contract because it is not about me. I still got a couple of years left here. Do I want to be here? Yes. I want to be here forever. I want to finish my career here… Why would I want to go somewhere else?
“I think the fans need to understand that and sometimes don’t read too much what the papers say, you know, because they just want to create headlines to try to sell papers, you know. I feel sad that sometimes the fans get caught up into all of that…”
Pujols reiterated what he said his agent had made clear earlier – that Holliday’s decision was not a part of his own decision. This was in the context of whether he played a personal role in Holliday’s signing, a suggestion he waved off. Pujols closed the contract discussion with this remark.
“…Why keep talking about something that isn’t going to happen for two years? I mean maybe talking for about the last year and a half. Another headline about ‘Albert Pujols Leaving St. Louis’. I ain’t going nowhere for two years, and hopefully, I ain’t going nowhere for the rest of my career.”
I could not find a headline similar to what Pujols quoted, but here is the link to the article to which I suspect he was referring. It was from the Post-Dispatch, dated January 18 and entitled “El Hombre in No Rush for Extension”. As a point of comparison, another very different account of Pujols’ remarks was posted the same day at the Globe-Democrat.
The story continues as Joe Strauss noted in his weekly chat Wednesday that the Cardinals have “engaged Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, in contract talks.” As one would expect, neither side immediately commented.
Follow me on Twitter.