The wife of Albert Pujols announced on Instagram that the Angels slugger will retire after the 2021 season, but after neither the team nor the agency representing Pujols would confirm the post was true, Deidre Pujols amended it by adding “based on his contract” in parentheses to her sentence about Monday being the “first day of the last season” of his career.
A short while later, she again amended her post by prefacing it with this in all capital letters: "THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF PUJOLS RETIREMENT. I'M JUST TRYING TO SEND MY HUSBAND WITH BLESSINGS INTO 2021 SEASON!!"
A person close to Pujols said the first baseman, who is entering the final year of a 10-year, $240-million contract, “has not determined yet if it’s going to be his last year.” The Angels declined comment, but a team spokesman said he was informed by one of Pujols’ agents that the report was not true.
What got the confusion started was a heartfelt post from Deidre Pujols focusing on Albert's love of the game.
“Today is the first day of the last season of one of the most remarkable careers in sports!” Deidre Pujols wrote Monday. “I’m talking about my husband, Albert Pujols, who since the time he was a child would eat, sleep and breath this sport. I have had the privilege to walk out 23 years of this baseball journey and it is with such a full heart that I speak a blessing over him as he finishes this good race!”
Pujols responded to his wife’s initial post with three heart emojis, and Deidre seemed to leave little doubt — in her original and updated posts — that her 41-year-old husband would not play beyond 2021.
“God isn’t finished with you yet, my love, and as you finish out this season, I know another journey full of goodness is waiting just for you!” Deidre wrote. “Thank you for 21 years of incredible baseball thrills! Finish strong like the Angel you are, and I know you will wow us all this 2021 season as usual!”
Pujols is entering the 21st season of a distinguished career that is expected to earn him first-ballot entry into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
The 10-time All-Star spent the first 11 years of his career in St. Louis, where he established himself as one of the most feared right-handed hitters in the game. He helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 and 2011 and won three National League most valuable player awards.
Pujols, nicknamed “The Machine” because of his consistent production, was not the same slugger after he signed with the Angels before 2012. After batting .328 with a 1.037 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with the Cardinals, he has hit .257 with a .761 OPS in nine seasons — several of them plagued by lower-body injuries — for the Angels.
But that won’t detract much from a career in which Pujols has amassed 3,236 hits and 1,843 runs. He ranks fifth on baseball’s all-time list with 662 home runs, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez, and third with 2,100 RBIs.
“I’ve never known anyone more dedicated, disciplined and consistent than Albert,” Deidre Pujols wrote. “He has loved the game, he has hurt for the game, and he made sacrifices for this game as if it was his own child. He has grown from just a zealous young man into a confident leader who so many look up to.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.