TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols expects to make his first start at first base on Tuesday, when the Angels play the Brewers in Phoenix after an off-day.
The Angels won't utilize the designated hitter that day, playing under National League rules so their starting pitcher (Jason Vargas) can hit for the first time this spring. Playing first base would be Pujols' only chance to get in the lineup, and the Angels slugger said on Sunday morning that his surgically repaired right knee feels good enough to finally do that in a game.
Tuesday is 13 days before the April 1 opener in Cincinnati -- under NL rules, of course.
Pujols has been taking part in defensive drills since basically the start of camp, methodically increasing the intensity while running the bases in workouts for a week. Over his last three starts at DH, Pujols -- batting .353 (6-for-17) with a couple of homers and four RBIs in six Cactus League games -- hasn't needed a "courtesy runner."
Pujols made his seventh start at DH on Sunday against the Padres and may come by the Angels' facility on Monday to work out. And though Tuesday's return to first base isn't set in stone, he feels good about those prospects right now.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.