Joe Maddon disputes report that Albert Pujols was confrontational on day of release

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JOE MADDON, right, shown with Albert Pujols
Joe Maddon, right, talking with Albert Pujols during an introductory news conference at Angel Stadium. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Three days after Albert Pujols was designated for assignment by the Angels, a move that will ultimately lead to his release from the club, the future Hall of Famer was a topic of conversation again Sunday.

A report published Sunday morning by USA Today claimed Pujols “was yelling” at Angels manager Joe Maddon and “blasting Maddon’s managerial skills” after he was left out of the lineup Wednesday, a night that ended with Pujols being informed by general manager Perry Minasian and club president John Carpino postgame that he would be released.

Maddon was asked before Sunday’s game about the report, which cited two anonymous sources, and he disputed the characterization that his and Pujols’ exchange was “confrontational.”

“I’m hearing all this stuff being reported, but that’s not with me,” Maddon said, later reiterating: “I’ve heard this stuff, but it was not what I actually witnessed.”

Maddon wasn’t in the room when Minasian and Carpino told Pujols, who was in the final season of a 10-year, $240-million contract with the team, that he would be released. But Maddon said he heard later from Minasian and Carpino that the meeting was “very amenable and fine.”

During a news conference Thursday, Minasian said “there was no fight, there was no argument,” during his and Carpino’s meeting with Pujols and that he even gave Pujols a hug.

“He understood where we stood on the whole situation, and things did not end bad,” added Minasian, the team’s first-year general manager.

On Sunday, Maddon clarified that Pujols was left out of the lineup Wednesday — when the Angels were facing a Tampa Bay Rays pitcher in Ryan Yarbrough that Pujols had been successful against in the past — because the team had already decided to inform him of the release after the game.

Days earlier, Maddon had told Pujols he would be in the Wednesday lineup “because I try to map things out as much as I can, and I had it mapped out for the week,” Maddon said. “But then things shifted and I had to do what I was asked to do in that moment. It was very simple. It’s not complicated.”

Pujols has not spoken publicly about his release but has shown no indication he is ready to retire after 21 MLB seasons. In 24 games with the Angels this season, he batted .198 with a .622 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and five home runs.

In recent days, several prominent former players including Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre criticized the Angels for the sudden manner of Pujols’ release.

"If there is a baseball player that deserves a ton of respect, it is Albert Pujols,” Beltre told reporter Héctor Gómez on Friday. “What happened to him is shameful and shows the ugly side of baseball. No matter what, he will always be a legend."

The Angels played a tribute video to Pujols between innings of Friday’s game but haven’t announced any other formal plans to honor the first baseman.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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