Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, with 445 career home runs under his belt, has been powerless through the first month of the 2012 campaign. After going 0-for-4 in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Indians, Pujols was batting .216 with no homers, including a .204 mark with two strikes.
What makes his two-strike average more alarming is that he has reached that disadvantage in more than 54 percent of his plate appearances (50 of 92).
Manager Mike Scioscia gives partial credence to the theory that Pujols is adapting to American League pitching, which he has only seen in nine All-Star Game appearances, Interleague Play and two World Series trips. With limited knowledge about what to expect from opposing hurlers, Pujols often finds himself in a two-strike hole.
With the majority of the season still to play, however, Scioscia isn't quick to draw any firm conclusions just yet.
"Your stats are naked at the beginning of the season and there's a lot of attention at the end, also," Scioscia said. "In the middle, a lot of times bad stretches are absorbed because of a good start and you just look at where the averages are and say, 'Oh, he's having a good year.' But it might be 100 at-bats without a home run that maybe gets less attention than it does at the start of the season."
Indians manager Manny Acta said any hitter faces a steep learning curve when switching leagues.
"It plays a role," Acta said, "You can watch as many videos as you want, but there's nothing like familiarity with the pitchers and the league that you're in. If you can hit, you can hit. But, it certainly plays a role."
Acta noted other subtleties that could factor into Pujols' slow start.
"Well, the continuity and feeling comfortable at home, having the same backdrop and all that," Acta said. "Although, the majority of them are designed for you to see the ball pretty good. It takes a while for people to get used to a different league. Certainly, he had a really good Spring Training in a different scenario. He's going to be OK. I just want to make sure you know that. Hopefully, right after Sunday.