OAKLAND -- Wednesday marked the ninth straight game Albert Pujols started at designated hitter. Putting him there, and not at his natural position of first base, is a rather easy decision.
"The alternative is for Albert not to play," manager Mike Scioscia said, "so we're fine if he has to DH."
The most important thing for the Angels is to continue to get Pujols' bat in the lineup, a worthwhile venture considering the 13-game hitting streak during which he batted .377 with three homers and 10 RBIs heading into Wednesday's series finale against the A's. But he's as one-dimensional as ever these days, with a tender right calf that forced him to miss four games two weeks ago and continues to glaringly affect his running ability.
"As comfortable as he is in the batter's box, you can see, running, he's laboring," Scioscia said. "But he knows what his presence means in our lineup and he's going to play as much as he can."
Pujols hasn't taken grounders at first base very regularly and there's still no timetable for when he will return to the field.
Pujols' calf has translated into a return to first base for Kendrys Morales, who has started seven of the past nine games at his original position. Starting Morales, who missed almost two full seasons with a couple of ankle surgeries, is the only way the Angels can keep Pujols, Morales and Mark Trumbo in the same lineup.
So far, Morales seems to be holding up just fine.
"He has terrific hands, he's got nice actions around the base," Scioscia said. "Range-wise at first base, he's comparable to what most first basemen would have. Albert obviously has more range just for the experience and his athleticism, but Kendrys is playing fine at first base. For missing some time, it didn't take him long to get back in the saddle, and he feels OK."