Pujols all business about trip to the Bronx

Pujols all business about trip to the Bronx

MINNEAPOLIS -- Following the series finale against the Twins on Thursday, Albert Pujols' new venture with a new team in a new league will take him to the plush, still relatively new Yankee Stadium.

Minus three regular-season games at the old Yankee Stadium during Interleague Play with the Cardinals in 2003, and a trip to the All-Star Game in that ballpark's final season in '08, Pujols and the Bronx have never had much interaction.

On Friday, when the Angels arrive for the start of a three-game series beginning with the Yankees' home opener, it'll be quite the scene as Pujols steps into the batter's box for the first time at the three-year-old park.

For everyone except Pujols, that is.

"No disrespect when I tell you that, but to me, I look at it like another different stadium," said Pujols, who heads into the Yankees series batting .217 with no homers in the first six games. "There's a lot of history in there, there was a lot of history in the old stadium, so I don't want to disrespect the memories and the history of the players that played through that city. But I don't get caught up in that. I try to separate the off-the-field stuff with my preparation."

Few realize that Pujols' introduction to the United States came in New York, probably because the native Dominican spent no more than six weeks there before moving to Independence, Mo. During that time, he didn't speak English, had no idea where he was relative to Yankee Stadium and never got a chance to catch a game as a fan.

His first game, in fact, came at Kauffman Stadium on June 10, 1997 -- when then Angels center fielder Jim Edmonds made that well-chronicled spectacular, diving, over-the-shoulder catch against the Royals.

Pujols was seated right behind home plate.

"For me, being that low, it was tough to see, but man, it's amazing," said Pujols, who later had Edmonds as a teammate and let him know how impressed he was. "When I watch it on TV, that's an unbelievable catch."

Pujols' one regret about his brief time in New York is never visiting Monument Park -- partly because it was raining for two of the nights he was there in '03 and partly because his focus is just that sharp. He hopes to do so this weekend, but back-to-back day games could make it tough.

Maybe Sunday.

"That's one thing that I should've done at the old Yankee Stadium," Pujols said. "I should've gone around to the bullpen. But like I said, I don't get caught up in all that. And that's probably why I didn't go."