ST. LOUIS – You never know what you might see on any given night at the ballpark. Fans who stayed the full nine innings of the St. Louis Cardinals’ blowout victory Sunday were treated to quite a surprise.
“Now pitching, No. 5, Albert Pujols.” The Cardinals legend added another milestone to his illustrious career, taking the mound for his first career pitching appearance on May 15. He picked up the final three outs to secure a 15-6 victory at Busch Stadium.
Pujols made history with his mound appearance Sunday. Only one other player, Babe Ruth, has had more home runs among anyone to ever pitch in a MLB game. It was also the seventh different fielding position that Pujols has played since he debuted in 2001.
While becoming one of his generation’s most dominant hitters, Pujols spent most of his time at first base. He has played more than 2,000 games and has two Gold Gloves to show for it.
The 42-year-old has played more than 400 games combined at either third base, left field or right field. He rotated between those positions regularly during his first three seasons in St. Louis before becoming a full-time first baseman in 2004.
Fans may have a hard to recollecting some other positions Pujols covered. In fact, when he pitched on Sunday, it was the third position that Pujols has played for only one game. Pujols took on shortstop one time during his sophomore season in 2002. Six years later, he made his only appearance at second base.
All of this experience adds up to seven positions played over 22 seasons. According to Baseball Almanac, 47 people have played all nine positions. If Pujols happens to accomplish that before he retires, he will need to play arguably two of the toughest positions on the diamond. Catcher and center field.
Having not played an outfield position since 2003, it might be tough to add center field on his bucket list. It seems unlikely Pujols would dress up to play backstop as well, though he put on an audition for catcher recently when he went behind the plate to warm up some pitchers last month.
If somehow Pujols plays all positions, he would be the first player to do that having spent most of his career with the Cardinals since Jose Oquendo. It would probably take some more nostalgia and late double-digit leads for that to even be considered, but it’s one of many possible developments worth following in his final season.
Now in his 12th season with the Cardinals, Pujols won three NL MVP awards and two World Series rings in St. Louis from 2001-2011, a stint during which he broke or chased several franchise batting records. He ranks second in Cardinals history with 447 home runs and 1,335 RBI, only behind fellow Cardinals legend Stan Musial in both categories.