By Dennis Abrams
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Extra info for Albert Pujols (Baseball Superstars)
Although many rookies might have panicked, thinking that their first hit would be their last, Pujols remained confident. “I was hitting the ball good, so I didn’t get frustrated,” he said, quoted in Albert the Great. “I knew what I could do. ” Again, to say he had a “good series” was surely an understatement. He had what can only be described as a great series, getting 7 hits in 14 at-bats. He hit his first home run, off Armando Reynoso. He drove in eight runs. He also got what can be described as one of the biggest hits of his career.
Some Cardinals coaches thought that La Russa was working Pujols extra hard, hoping he would give the manager a reason to send him back to the minors. But no reason came. Pujols passed every challenge that La Russa could throw at him. “It was impossible to get him to perform poorly, and I pushed him,” La Russa said, quoted in Albert the Great. “Dave Duncan accused me of trying to find a place where he couldn’t play, but Albert refused to cooperate. ” As spring training progressed, the club began to trim its roster, sending players down to the minors.
He hit his first home run, off Armando Reynoso. He drove in eight runs. He also got what can be described as one of the biggest hits of his career. In the last game of the series, Pujols came to bat against superstar pitcher Randy Johnson, a sure future Hall of Famer. Pujols smashed a two-out, two-strike, two-run double that earned him his first photo in Sports Illustrated magazine. After just six games in the majors, Pujols was receiving national recognition. Not only that, his teammates were beginning to appreciate how special Pujols was.