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Serving as DH, Pujols goes 2-for-4 in return to lineup

Serving as DH, Pujols goes 2-for-4 in return to lineup

Serving as DH, Pujols goes 2-for-4 in return to lineup
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols, absent from the Angels' previous four games due to a bothersome right calf, still doesn't feel 100 percent healthy, but he feels good enough.

Good enough to hit, good enough to run at something close to his full speed and good enough to boost an Angels offense that totaled seven runs while dropping two of three during a just-completed weekend set in Detroit.

"Obviously I'm not where I want to be, but it's good to be back in the lineup," said Pujols, who hit third and served as the designated hitter during Tuesday's 6-5 walk-off win over the Red Sox at Angel Stadium. "I'm still going to be taking it easy. It doesn't bother me swinging, but running I'm still a little bit sore."

Pujols went 2-for-4 in his first game back, lacing a line-drive single in his first plate appearance, hitting his 29th homer in his third and being very cautious every time he stepped out of the batter's box.

"You could see obviously he was guarding it," manager Mike Scioscia said postgame, "but he feels OK now and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Pujols originally felt tightness in his right calf while running to third base in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game at Fenway Park. An MRI the next day revealed no structural damage, just inflammation, but Pujols felt enough soreness during running drills on Saturday that Scioscia held him out an extra three days.

Early Tuesday afternoon, though, Pujols did some agility drills and briefly ran the bases, providing enough evidence that he can play.

"It's a lot better," Pujols said. "It's progressing. It's something that's progressing every day."

"Swinging a bat wasn't really much of an issue over the weekend as it was what happens when you hit the ball," Scioscia added. "Albert's a little more comfortable, as our medical staff is, with where we can kind of put a little governor on and not be at risk running the bases and hopefully nurse his way through this."

The 32-year-old is still not sure when he'll return to first base -- "I don't have a magic ball, so whenever I feel good," Pujols said -- but in the meantime, the Angels can use Mark Trumbo or Kendrys Morales, who started there Tuesday.

The important thing is that Pujols' bat is back.

"Injuries in this game is something that's out of your control," said Pujols, batting .285 on the year. "Obviously it was tough, because we started a really good road trip, it was a big series in Detroit, and I had to miss that and it was pretty tough. That's one of the teams that are in front of us in the Wild Card [race]. It's tough, but I'm just glad to be back in the lineup today and hopefully for the rest of the season."

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