Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pujols arrives early

Pujols and a few other position players have arrived early to Spring Training.
Pujols actually has been in town since Friday and had been working out at a high school with his personal trainer. He was among about 20 Cardinals hitting the field on an informal basis Wednesday in an early start to their title defense.

No NL team has repeated as the pennant winner since Atlanta in 1996 and there have been seven different World Series winners this decade. The Cardinals won only 83 games, fewest ever by a World Series winner, and nearly collapsed in the closing weeks of the season.

"We probably didn't have the best year with our record, but who cares?" Pujols said. "But that's over, all of that's in the past. Now I'm here in camp and celebration is over."[...]

The off-field activities haven't prevented Pujols from reporting in top shape, with none of the foot, back and hamstring issues that have dogged him in recent year. He noted, however, that there hasn't been much baseball-related activity yet.

"I feel too strong right now, but it's better to be ready," Pujols said. "We'll see if I can hold on hopefully, for the whole year."

Catcher Yadier Molina and outfielders Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker were among other early position-player arrivals. Virtually all the pitchers were in camp ahead of schedule.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, oversaw Wednesday's workout. Manager Tony La Russa is due to arrive just in time for the first workout.

"I think it's abnormal to have this many guys here this early," Duncan said. "And they've been here for a while.

"I think they recognize it's going to be a competitive camp and it's important they be in shape and get their feet on the ground."

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