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Albert Pujols, coming off the worst season of his 13-year major league career, is feeling better and will not try to be "Superman" for the Los Angeles Angels this season.
"I want to stay healthy and play every day," Pujols told reporters Sunday. "The numbers are going to be there at the end because I know how to hit."
|Albert Pujols, hampered by a foot injury for most of the 2013 season, played in a career-low 99 games and had his lowest output for home runs, batting average and RBIs.|
Pujols had a .258 batting average with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs last season -- all career lows for the three-time National League MVP. He appeared in only 99 games, also a career low, as he dealt with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
He said he enters the year with the mindset that he doesn't have to play at first base every day and with a willingness to be the designated hitter -- or sit out -- whenever manager Mike Scioscia wants to rest him.
"I know I'll be ready for Opening Day," Pujols said. "I've been doing it for 14 years. I know not to try to do too much."
Pujols, who will bat third, between Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton, is not focusing on his numbers and hasn't projected how many games he would play at first base.
"I think if there's a day I need to DH, I'll DH," Pujols said. "If I need a day off, I'll take a day off. I wish I'd have done that more earlier in my career, because the last couple of years I'm trying to be Superman and trying to play 162 games. It's cost me the last couple of years.
"If I feel good, you're going to see me out there every day. My job is to be in the lineup, to help this organization win. I'm going to do whatever it takes to do that, whether it's at first base or as a DH or taking a day off here and there."
Nor will he use Trout's success as motivation.
"I don't need to compare with anybody, buddy," Pujols said. "Just look at my numbers. My job is to stay healthy and go out there to play. I don't need anybody to motivate me to play this game."
Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels after the 2011 season, his 10th with St. Louis. He hit 30 homers and drove in 105 RBIs in 2012 after a slow start. The Angels failed to make the playoffs both seasons.
So far, Scioscia likes what he sees this spring.
"He's moving as well as he has in four or five years," Scioscia said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.