TEMPE, Ariz. -- Before the clubhouse got crowded, before many of the television cameras showed up and before the Angels would conduct anything that closely resembled a real
practice, Albert Pujols had been here -- in the backfields of the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, getting his work in with very little fanfare, as he prepares for a 10-year career with the Angels.
"He has an incredible routine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "and part of it is a lot of things you see behind the scenes."
That routine suddenly became visible on Monday, when the Angels conducted their first full workout and all of the everyday players took live batting practice on the main field. Pujols hit with Group 2, along with Alberto Callaspo, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar.
Usually, at this point in the spring, it's the pitchers who are ahead of the hitters. But against lefty Brad Mills, a longtime Minor Leaguer acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Jeff Mathis, Pujols was already on his game, spraying line drives all over the outfield.
"Unbelievable," said Torii Hunter, who took batting practice with the first group and was shagging balls in the outfield when Pujols was up. "His bat was explosive. He said he hadn't hit outside in a while, but he's hitting the ball like he's always been hitting it. It's amazing."
Pujols, who signed a $240 million contract in December, arrived at Spring Training last Monday and had mostly been hitting with recovering slugger Kendrys Morales -- either in one of the adjacent fields or in the batting cages.
Seven days later, he was finally able to get his first full Angels experience, with owner Arte Moreno and president John Carpino also watching.
"It was a good day," Pujols simply said later, in the rush of a bustling clubhouse that was getting ready for an annual presentation from the Players Association. "It was nice to get out there with everybody."
Pujols is enough to change the dynamic of an entire team -- not just because of his offense, but also because of his presence.
On Monday, the Angels finally got a chance to feel some of that.
"He changes the dynamic of a lineup, man," Hunter said. "Just him being in there is going to change everything."