OAKLAND — Albert Pujols aggravated the left foot injury that has hampered him all season on his ninth-inning, two-run single Friday night and returned to Southern California on Saturday to be evaluated by a doctor, a setback that could send the Angels slugger to the disabled list.
“It’s more sore than anything he’s dealt with all season,” Manager Mike Scioscia said before Saturday’s game against the Oakland Athletics. “We’ll get some direction from the doctor and see where he is.”
Despite playing all season with painful plantar fasciitis in his foot, a condition that relegated the first baseman to the designated hitter's spot in 65 of the 99 games he's started, Pujols is hitting .258 with 17 home runs and 64 runs batted in.
Though Pujols, the team’s No. 3 hitter, said the foot didn’t feel significantly better after taking four days off for the All-Star break, he did go 12 for 34 (.353) with seven RBIs in his first eight games after the break and was heating up at the plate.
Pujols, who has eight years and $212 million remaining on his 10-year, $240-million contract, had not decided whether to undergo off-season surgery in which the plantar fascia ligament is cut to release tension and relieve inflammation in the foot.
If the tendon tore on its own Friday night, surgery might not be necessary. But recovering from such an injury would probably keep the 33-year-old sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Pujols’ loss for an extended period would not only put a serious dent in the team’s fading playoff hopes, but it would also remove a powerful right-handed bat from a lineup that has struggled against left-handed pitching.
“We’ve been struggling against left-handed pitching this year, but losing a guy like Albert isn’t narrowed to just that scope,” Scioscia said. “He’s the foundation of the lineup, a guy you want to build around. We’ll shift Mike into the three-hole and see when Albert is going to be back.”