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Monday, July 23, 2012
Albert Pujols, third wheel?

By Mark Saxon

Only one person knows what it's like to be Albert Pujols, of course, but it seems like a safe assumption that this season has felt strange, and not just for the obvious reasons.

After about a decade as the game's best player, Pujols has been the third-most productive hitter on his team this season, behind Mike Trout, who leads the league in multiple offensive categories, and Mark Trumbo, who leads it in slugging percentage. A week or more can go by without Pujols conducting an interview after a game, reporters gravitating to Trout or Trumbo.

"I heard a lot of guys on TV saying maybe that I was trying too hard and Trout and Trumbo will take the pressure off myself," Pujols said. "Come on. I've been doing this for 11 years. I think I may have felt pressure my first and second year, but I've got too many games on this level. I know what I can do and I'm going to try to go out there and give my best for the fans, for the this team, for this organization."

Pujols is hitting .375 with four doubles and four home runs in the 10 games since the All-Star break.

Here is the Angels' lineup for Monday night's game vs. the Kansas City Royals:

Trout LF
Torii Hunter RF
Pujols 1B
Trumbo DH
Howie Kendrick 2B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Maicer Izturis SS
Peter Bourjos CF
Bobby Wilson C