Dodgers First Baseman Albert Pujols Was All Smiles in his Introductory Press Conference

Dodgers Recap: Albert Pujols Shows Gratitude During Introductory Press Conference

The Dodgers introduced Albert Pujols as their newest member of the organization in a press conference Monday. Pujols was crystal clear in showing his gratitude for the Dodgers giving him an opportunity to resume his storied career.

His decision to come to Los Angeles and turn down offers from other organization came down to communication and the team’s game plan moving forward.

“My agent and I had great communication, it went really well. They (the Dodgers) were really excited about having me here. This is what led to my decision to come play here. I’m excited to play for the organization and go and get another ring.”

What adds to the excitement and motivation of what is likely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer joining the Dodgers is his selflessness and approach to do what it takes to bring home another championship to Dodger Stadium.

“I’m here to do whatever, pinch hit, play first base, whatever they want. I’m just excited to wear this uniform. There are a bunch of great guys in the clubhouse. They’ve come in and out of the clubhouse and are excited that I’m a Dodger.”

There was no question that Pujols jumped at the opportunity to win another ring. He’s won two (2006, 2011) in his 21-year career, both with the Cardinals.

“As a ballclub every team is out to win a championship. That’s the attitude in every clubhouse, and that’s the attitude in this one too. Watching them play, and I’ve been playing against it for a long time and I see how they go at it, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Many in the baseball world felt the Angels unjustly released Pujols on May 13, disallowing him to play out the final year of a 10-year/$240 million contract. Fortunately for him, the Dodgers gave him a call as soon as he cleared waivers. There were no hard feelings for the former MVP.

“Let me tell you something: my goal the last two years was to be an MVP first baseman. I understand they (the Angels) made the decision (to release me) and I understand. I moved forward and will wear a different uniform. They say that I wanted to play more. That never came out of my mouth. However the team (Dodgers) wants to use me, whether it’s to mentor the guys, I was excited with the playing time. They wanted to move in a different direction though. I was there 9.5 years and there are no hard feelings.”

And what a mentor for the young Dodgers. Not one player can stand to ignore the wealth of knowledge Pujols brings to the team.

For Pujols there was one day off after his release. Other than that, it was business as usual because he knew he still had some gas left in the tank.

“I knew it wasn’t over for me, so I continued working the last 12-13 days, doing my lifting and hitting; things that would keep me in game shape. I wanted to make sure I was ready to go. I didn’t want to stop doing baseball activities in case I got that call … When I got this call and opportunity, I was blessed.”

Pujols made a reference to old friend and former Dodger, David Freese, who he says is a close friend of his. The two are yet to communicate, but Pujols says he feels Freese will give him a week before calling him to talk about the role Pujols may anticipate going forward in Dodger Blue.

“There were a few teams (that reached out), but I made the choice I felt was great for me and my family. This organization had a great gameplan for me and that’s what mattered to me.”

Since Saturday, much discussion has gone on throughout social media about Pujols’ number. For the entirety of his career he wore No. 5, a number that belongs to 2020 World Series MVP, Corey Seager. Thus a change to No. 55 was announced.

“5 is a number of grace. Five five is double that grace. I told that to my family and they agreed with me.”

Be assured that Pujols is not thinking about this being his last stop though. He said at Spring Training he wasn’t going to mention retirement, and didn’t today because he still feels like he has a lot to give.

“I won’t make that comment until it’s that time. I said that at Spring Training and I feel I still have some gasoline left in my tank.”

It was no shock that there were a lot of questions aimed at Pujols with the intention of unveiling a chip on his shoulder, grown by displeasure from his release by the Angels. Calm, cool and collected, Pujols said he just has to go out and play his game.

“I don’t have to show the Angels or anybody anything. I just have to go out and play my game … I enjoyed my time with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but I’m ready to enjoy my time with the Dodgers.”

The press conference was closed by a question about Pujols’ thoughts on Dodger leaders such as Clayton Kershaw, and the native of the Domincan Republic had quite some things to say.

“They’re great. We’ve partnered for different events. At the end of the day we know we have our responsibilities first. Giving back is huge. It’s more than just (baseball) talent; it’s more than just wearing a big league jersey. Kershaw goes every year to give back to the Dominican Republic, and he doesn’t have to do that. At the end of the day it’s about using the talent and abilities God gave you.”

Tonight the Dodgers open a four-game series against the Diamondbacks. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner gets the nod for Torey Lovullo’s club. Pujols is 2-for-8 against him in the past, with a home run. Time will tell if his first at-bat comes tonight. The game begins at 7:10 p.m. live on SportsNet LA.

To make room for Pujols on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers transferred pitcher Tony Gonsolin to the 60-day Injured List.