The 2014 Major League Baseball regular season begins on Saturday with the Opening Series in Sydney, Australia, and five days out we give a standing ovation in our hearts to Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Hank Greenberg and Lou Boudreau. We remember all those times going to the ballpark to watch Nomar Garciaparra at Fenway and Jeff Bagwell in Houston. We think of Opening Days past and present for National Leaguers in uniform now: David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez and Freddie Freeman.
Now let’s get back on that Albert Pujols watch.
The Angels first baseman is eight longballs away from the 500 Home Run Club, one of many key milestones in his path. After being limited to 99 games in 2013 by plantar fasciitis, Pujols said a few days ago that he is “really excited and happy how I’m playing first base and how I’m moving.” Will the old Albert be back in 2014? The one who had the best first decade in MLB history? Many eyes will be on him when the Angels open the season March 31 at home against Seattle. Tickets
Here is a look at Pujols’ Opening Day history, 2001-11 for STL and 2012-13 for LAA:
2001: 1 for 3
2002: 2 for 4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 2B, BB
2003: 1 for 3, R, RBI, BB, IW
2004: 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 2B, IW
2005: 2 for 5, RBI
2006: 2 for 2, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR, 2 BB, SF
2007: 0 for 2, 2 BB
2008: 1 for 4
2009: 3 for 4, 2B, IW
2010: 4 for 5, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR
2011: 0 for 5
2012: 0 for 3, IW
2013: 0 for 4, BB
Totals: 16 for 48 (.333), 11 R, 8 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 11 BB (4 INT)
Pujols just turned 34, and he’s still a guy you want to find in that Topps Opening Day Blaster pack. Here’s a reminder of what damage he can do on Opening Day. Flash back to April 5, 2010, at Cincinnati. He homered off Aaron Harang in his first at-bat, two homers he hit that day, scoring four times (0 for 12 in three openers since). Here’s an MLB.com video of his 2010 opening blast:
And here he is pouncing on a bunt Sunday at Spring Training, for mobility hawks…
Who should be No. 4?