Early struggles not a concern for Pujols

Early struggles not a concern for Pujols

MINNESOTA -- A .217 batting average and zero home runs wasn't the way Albert Pujols imagined starting his tenure with the Angels. But a resume like his tends to ease any concerns the first six games of a season may bring.

"Listen, it's not being cocky, but I know I can hit," Pujols said prior to going 1-for-5 in Thursday's loss to the Twins. "I showed that in the spring, I've shown that for 11 years, and I don't think that's going to go away [instantly]."

Pujols got off to a slow start last year, posting a .755 OPS in the first two months before improving to a .997 clip from June-September. Last year, the slow start was chalked up to the distractions of failed extension talks with the Cardinals.

This year, after a spring in which he batted .383 with a team-leading seven homers and 20 RBIs, Pujols seemed destined for a strong start.

It just hasn't gone his way yet. In Pujols' 23 at-bats through the first six games, two have resulted in extra-base hits, three have been strikeouts, four have been infield popups and eight have been groundouts to the left side (four of which came Monday).

Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes a lot of it has to do with getting acclimated with new surroundings -- ballpark dimensions, hitting backgrounds and pitchers -- after coming over from the National League.

"But he will find it," Scioscia added, "that's for sure."

"It's a slow start for the team," Pujols, whose Angels entered Thursday with a 2-3 record. "This is not about me. I think we should be 4-1 or something like that. You look at our lineup, nobody's hitting good. We haven't clicked. And Spring Training, it was the same way, too. I think we started a little bit slow and then we picked it up.

"It's a long season. You get the tendency as a player, the first week of the season, to try to do too much and try to have a good start, because if you get a good start, everything goes well. But believe it or not, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. That's how I look at it."