Pujols returns after missing game to be with family

Pujols returns after missing game to be with family

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols' wife, Deidre, gave birth to the couple's fifth child, and third daughter, on Sunday. But this was the first time she had been in labor during Pujols' baseball season.

It wound up being a lot less stressful than it could've been.

The baby was supposed to be born on Oct. 3. And, depending on what happens these next couple of weeks, that could've been right around the time the Angels were getting ready to start the playoffs.

"Yeah, but she popped out early," Pujols said, drawing a laugh from a scrum of reporters. "I guess whenever they want to come out, they come out. Right after that Saturday game, [Deidre] didn't feel too good, and we drove to the hospital and ended up staying overnight.

"It's kind of good that it happened now. It probably would have been more stressful if we were in the middle of the playoffs and I had to miss a playoff game. Right now, I'm glad I just missed a game and I'm glad everything went well."

Pujols was back in the starting lineup against the Rangers on Wednesday, as expected, and said the pregnancy went perfectly well.

On Sunday, at 3:30 a.m. CT, Deidre gave birth to Esther Grace in Kansas City, where Deidre's parents live and where the Angels were playing. A sleepless Pujols then played in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium, but he had to miss Tuesday's 11-3 win -- which followed Monday's off-day -- because babies born a few weeks early are forced to stay in the hospital an extra day, as a precaution.

"That's the whole reason I wasn't here yesterday, because I had to wait until Tuesday to drive them back home," Pujols said. "My plan was to go Monday in the afternoon and catch a flight Tuesday morning and be here yesterday for the game, but you can't plan ahead of time because you don't know how things are going to work."

Pujols watched Tuesday's game on television in his wife's hospital room, but by the seventh inning -- when the Angels sported a 10-3 lead -- he was knocked out.

Pujols, as you might expect, hasn't had much sleep these days.

"It's different," he said of watching his team play without him. "Even my wife was telling me, 'Man, that feels weird.' Obviously I wasn't here, but my ballclub was playing. I wish I was here, but you know what, it wasn't something I could control. I had to attend to my family first and make sure everything was good so I can refocus and finish strong the next couple of weeks."