MARYVALE, Ariz. -- For the second consecutive winter the Los Angeles Angels made a splash during the offseason, signing the best hitter available as a free agent. Adding Josh Hamilton may have commanded this past winter's headlines, but on Tuesday the Angels were worrying about yesterday's news. That's because their big-ticket addition for 2012, first baseman Albert Pujols, was finally able to return to first base to show that his recovery from offseason knee surgery was proceeding well.
The big question might be whether Pujols will be ready in more than enough time to take his position on Opening Day, but he and manager Mike Scioscia both sounded confident after the Angels' 6-1 loss to the Brewers, as Pujols declared himself ready.
Scioscia said of Pujols' five-inning return to fielding, “He looked fine, he was moving to the bag well. He's a terrific first baseman, so he's not that far away from where he needs to be. I think it's an important first step for him to get out there and play a little defense.”
Pujols has been working hard to get himself back on the field. “He took an aggressive practice today as far as taking ground balls,” Scioscia said.
That said, it isn't entirely smooth sailing. “I think that as long as he feels comfortable out there, I think that what's giving him more trouble now is really his heel, his foot,” Scioscia added. “We want to get that under control, but he's looking fine out there; he's got a little bit of plantar fasciitis. His knee is feeling good, so that is not an issue. I think he's going to be fine. Right now, he's in the part of the spring where he's got to get his legs under him for defense. I don't think it's something we're concerned about right now.”
But couldn't the plantar fasciitis be a nagging worry? “I think the fact that his knee's OK gives us a little more comfort than anything else.”
So the question then is, will Albert return to first base on Wednesday, or will he return to DH? Immediately after the game, Scioscia kept his options open, saying, “We'll see how he comes out of [today]. We'll pretty much go with our core lineup, and we'll get Albert out there at DH or at first base.”
Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter.