The Yankees' second baseman, serving as the captain for the American League in the State Farm Home Run Derby, wanted his good friend to join the team. And Pujols, who has competed in three Home Run Derby events, would've done it if he had been picked for the All-Star Game. But if not, he asked Cano if he would pick teammate Mark Trumbo, instead.
And so he did, ultimately choosing Trumbo, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.
"I told Robbie to call him, because I thought he deserved it," Pujols said. "It's great to have fresh faces in the Home Run Derby. He invited me, but I told him, 'Robbie, to be honest, if I don't get picked for the All-Star Game, I'm not going to do it, but I'd love it if you invited Trumbo,' and he told me he'd do it."
After a slow start, Pujols has pretty much been the Pujols of old for a while now, batting .325 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs over his last 42 games heading into the series opener against the Indians. But a dreadful April has given him a very un-Pujols-like .271 batting average and .789 OPS on the season, denying him a chance to play in the All-Star Game for only the third time -- and second straight season -- in his 12-year career.
This one would've been extra special, since it's taking place in Kansas City, where Pujols essentially grew up in the United States.
But Pujols can only think about those who were even more deserving and didn't make it.
"I mean, look at the season Edwin Encarnacion [of the Blue Jays] is having," Pujols said, "and not even the players selected him -- a guy who has 55 RBIs and is batting . with 22 homers. What else do you have to do to be an All-Star? And I've always said it -- when I don't deserve to go to an All-Star Game, I feel like I shouldn't go.
"I was bad in April. If I would've had a good year, or just a good April, my numbers would've been right there for the All-Star Game. But it's part of baseball. We'll wait 'til next year and try to do the best I can to be in the All-Star Game, because that's an honor, to be around so many stars. And it's very important in this game, since whoever wins gets home-field advantage for the World Series."