Albert Pujols is heeding the encouragement of his 14-year-old son and will participate in the All-Star home-run derby, which he describes as like batting practice except with 50,000 people watching you.
Albert Pujols plans to get the most out of next week’s All-Star festivities in Cincinnati. Not only will the Angels slugger start at first base for the American League in Tuesday night’s game, he will participate in Monday’s home-run derby.
“I enjoy it,” said Pujols, a 10-time All-Star who competed in the home-run derby in 2003, 2007 and 2009. “I take it like regular batting practice … except you have 50,000 people watching you and you don’t have a cage.
Pujols, who hit his AL-leading 26th home run in the first inning Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, confirmed his participation with Major League Baseball and union officials Monday.
Mike Trout, who hit his 22nd homer in the second inning, remained undecided on the event as of Tuesday, but one person familiar with the Angels center fielder’s thinking said he is “leaning against” participating.
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It wasn’t a difficult decision for Pujols. His 14-year-old son, A.J., has encouraged him for weeks to participate in the home-run derby, and Pujols is looking forward to having both A.J. and his 6-year-old son, Ezra, on the field with him.
“The whole reason to do it is because the kids asked me to do it, and hopefully I can put on a good show for the fans,” Pujols said.
Rangers sign Cuban infielder
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers agreed to terms with Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez on an international free-agent contract on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Ibanez hit .283 with 13 home runs during the past three seasons in Cuba’s top league. He was the youngest player on the Cuban team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Last week, the Rangers signed outfielders Leodys Taveras from the Dominican Republic and Miguel Aparicio from Venezuela.
A’s call up Smolinsiki
NEW YORK — The Oakland Athletics have called up outfielder Jake Smolinski from Triple A Nashville and optioned right-hander Chris Bassitt to their top farm club.
Manager Bob Melvin says Smolinski will play mostly against left-handed pitching, a problem area for the A’s.
Smolinski batted .133 with a homer and six RBI in 60 at-bats for the Rangers this year, but was hitting .427 with six home runs and 23 RBI over 25 games in the Pacific Coast League.