The white flag went up in late July when the Angels, far out of playoff contention, traded third baseman Alberto Callaspo to Oakland and reliever Scott Downs to Atlanta and, according to a Foxsports.com report, nearly traded second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for a pitching prospect.
A 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night dropped the Angels (55-69) a season-high 16 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the American League West, a deficit the team deemed too large for the first baseman to risk further injury — and possibly jeopardize his health for 2014 — by returning in September.
"I think it was a smart move," said Pujols, who was hobbled all season by the sore heel, which finally gave out on July 26. "I'm bummed out because I want to be out there with the guys. But I understand it's not just this year. I'm trying to have a normal, healthy off-season, and that's the most important thing."
The minimum recovery period for the injury is six weeks, and Pujols, who hit .258 with 17 homers and 64 runs batted in but was relegated to designated hitter for 65 of 99 games, expressed as recently as Friday a desire to return in September.
But after meetings involving owner Arte Moreno, General Manager Jerry Dipoto, Manager Mike Scioscia, Pujols and the team's medical and training staffs, it was decided there was no need to bring Pujols, who has eight years and $212 million left on his contract after this season, back for the final two weeks.
"They said this is what's best for the organization in the long run," said Pujols, who also played this season with a sore right knee. "I said, 'Whatever you guys want to do, I'm all for it.' I want to be out there, but I understand I can't be selfish and put myself out there.
"It wasn't an easy decision, as competitive as I am, but I understand we need to look past this season. Now, I have in my mind I am definitely not coming back, so I can pace myself. I don't have to push."
With the plantar fascia having torn on its own, Pujols, 33, essentially replicated the surgery he would have had in October without undergoing an invasive procedure. The slugger can now get a two-month head start on his recovery and, the Angels hope, come back 100% in 2014.
"Our medical staff feels it's the best course of action," Scioscia said. "The risk and reward of everything has to be evaluated, and I think there's probably more risk than reward in Albert doing what he needed to do to play this season. We can get Albert ready for next year. It's a decision everyone can be at peace with."
Four in the fourth
One bad inning doomed Angels ace Jered Weaver (7-7) on Monday night, the right-hander allowing four runs and five hits in a 37-pitch fourth, as the Angels lost for the 17th time in 24 games since July 26.
Weaver, who was rocked for nine runs last Wednesday during an 11-3 loss to the New York Yankees, allowed Carlos Santana's run-scoring single, Asdrubal Cabrera's double, Jason Giambi's sacrifice fly and Lonnie Chisenhall's two-run homer.
The Angels pulled to within 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth on Erick Aybar's double and Mark Trumbo's RBI single. Hank Conger doubled Trumbo to third, but Trumbo was thrown out on a close play at the plate trying to tag on Chris Nelson's fly to right fielder Nick Swisher.
Indians right-hander Zach McAllister, the player to be named in a 2010 deal that sent Austin Kearns to the Yankees, allowed one run and five hits in 61/3 innings to improve to 6-7 with a 3.59 earned-run average.
Swisher homered off reliever Kevin Jepsen in the ninth, and Trumbo lined his team-leading 29th homer to center in the bottom of the ninth.
Outfielder Mike Trout, who left Sunday's game against Houston in the fifth inning because of a tight right hamstring, did not play Monday night, only the second game he has missed this season, but he hopes to return Tuesday.
"I wanted to play, but I don't need to push it and make it serious," said Trout, who is batting .333 with 21 homers, 78 RBIs and 88 runs. "I want to be cautious. I don't want it to pop."