Albert Pujols unapologetic for absence
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Albert Pujols acknowledges he made an error when he failed to cut off a throw in Game 2 of the World Series but says his errors did not extend to his failure to talk to reporters about the play in the clubhouse afterward.
"What do you want, me to wait for 40 minutes for you guys? I mean I was in the (kitchen) getting something to eat," Pujols said after batting practice Friday afternoon. "What about the night before when I spoke for an hour and a half? That's not fair. I think with you guys, I have to walk on eggshells. I don't think that's fair. I was there and usually (Cardinals media relations director Brian Bartow) comes around and says, 'Hey, they need you over there.' Nobody approached me for 40 minutes. You know what? After 40 minutes I was on my way home."
Reporters are not allowed into the team kitchen or back rooms of a major league clubhouse; only in the communal area where players have their lockers. Veteran players -- especially those who have played in the postseason where there are many reporters -- know they are expected to make themselves available in the clubhouse, particularly when that player had a key role in the game's outcome.
Pujols, however, was not in the clubhouse when media was admitted after the game nor did he appear at any time afterward. His street clothes also were gone, an indication he would be unavailable because he had likely gone home.
"I guess the way you guys are ripping me off, I guess I need to stay tomorrow in the clubhouse until you guys decide to talk to me," Pujols said when asked whether he has a responsibility to talk to reporters. "My responsibility is to my God and my family, I don't have any responsibility to anybody else. And I try to do the best I can to represent the game of baseball. I do that. Sometimes you make a mistake. Do I feel I made a mistake last night? I don't think so. What can I do? I was waiting and nobody approached me. There is nothing I can do."
Reporters wanted to speak with Pujols after the game to get his take on the crucial ninth inning play when he failed to cut off centerfielder John Jay's throw toward the plate. That error allowed Elvis Andrus advance to second base and eventually score.
"As soon as I saw that big turn (around third) by Ian Kinsler I knew I had a chance to get him if I cut that ball and throw to third," Pujols said Friday. "He did take that big turn and I took my eyes off the ball and obviously I missed it. There is nothing I can do but move on and get ready to play tomorrow."
After reviewing the missed cutoff several times after the game, the official scorer charged Pujols with an error.
"It has to be an error, it hit my glove," Pujols said, adding that he makes that play 99 times out a 100, but the ball cut away from him like a cut fastball. "If you want to blame me for that because we lost the game, then go ahead and blame me, I don't care. It is what it is. You have to stand up for it."
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"That won't happen again. I'll make sure -- if I have to stand in there -- that one of us is available for comment, win or lose," said Berkman, who almost always makes himself accessible to the media. "Again, it was unintentional and I'm sorry that was the way it worked out. I think there's a problem with the system. If you want to criticize us for last night, we deserved that, that's warranted. If you want to paint with a broad brush, I don't think that's accurate."
In comparison, St. Louis reliever Jason Motte, who blew the save, was available when the media was allowed in the clubhouse and withstood wave after wave of reporters questions for more than 30 minutes. He said a player has a responsibility to do so, a lesson he said Jason Isringhausen taught him.
"He told me that if you can talk to everyone on a day you strike the side out then you have to come out and face the music on one of those other days," Motte said. "It's part of the business. It's not fun talking about it but that's the way it and that's the way you have to handle it. You have to man up and that's the way it is."
Rangers veteran Michael Young said talking to the media is part of the job and helps take the heat off other players.
"I do think there is a responsibility," Young said. "You guys have a job to do. These are big games and it's just a matter of being respectful. You guys have jobs to do, too. You're not here for your health. If I can help I will."
Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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