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Scioscia carefully monitoring Pujols' health, action

Scioscia carefully monitoring Pujols' health, action

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols was back at first base on Friday, one day after serving as the designated hitter for the third time in a six-day stretch.

Pujols has yet to miss a game, and he's no longer hindered by the plantar fasciitis that crippled his 2013 season, but there are days when he doesn't run very well, or the stiffness creeps in, and it's something Angels manager Mike Scioscia is constantly monitoring.

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"He's playing a lot, and at times there's going to be some stiffness that players have, especially a player like Albert who had leg issues last year," Scioscia said. "But he's managed it well, and I think he's moving very well on the field."

Pujols is once again displaying Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base, but he's tapered off at the plate after a hot start to the season, with just four hits, zero home runs and zero RBIs in his last 38 at-bats. The 34-year-old admitted on Wednesday that the four-game series in Toronto, played on artificial turf, caused some soreness in his lower half -- a soreness that may have been impacting him at the plate.

"Our goal is to keep him in the batter's box every game that we can," Scioscia said of Pujols, who's batting .257 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs. "Not only that, but keep him with that good base and that strength in his lower half that's going to let him be the productive hitter he can be. We're going to pay attention to that.

"I don't know any player who's more comfortable DH'ing than playing the field, so it's not like he's embracing it, but he understands the tool, and he understands the impact his bat can have."

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.

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