Cubs

Albert Pujols trivia – with a Cubs flavor

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TOM COOPER

Albert Pujols trivia – with a Cubs flavor

Albert Pujols spent eleven seasons with the Cardinals, tormenting the division rival Cubs before departing for the Angels ahead of the 2012 season. Believe it or not, this is already his eighth season in Anaheim and he’s already fifth on the Angels career home run list.

Friday, the 39-year-old returned to Wrigley Field, and I couldn’t help digging into some Albert Pujols trivia to mark the occasion.

Pujols now has 57 career home runs against the Cubs, 20 more than any other active player (Ryan Braun is next with 37). Overall, 57 home runs against the Cubs is ninth all-time (Willie Mays leads the way with 92). But remember, the National League was an eight-team league through 1961, a 10-team league through 1968 and a 12-team league through 1992. That means more meetings between the Cubs and each opponent. More opportunities for home runs.

The first time Pujols faced the Cubs (May 11, 2001), the Cubs starting lineup looked like this:

2B Eric Young
3B Bill Mueller
LF Rondell White
RF Sammy Sosa
1B Ron Coomer
C  Todd Hundley
SS Ricky Gutierrez
CF Damon Buford
P  Jason Bere

Don Baylor was the Cubs manager.

Pujols played third base. His first homer at the expense of Cubs pitching came the next day - off Kyle Farnsworth. It was career home run No. 12 of 635.

With his home run on Friday afternoon, Pujols has now homered off 31 different Cubs pitchers. Along with Farnsworth and Cole Hamels, there has been:

Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Rodrigo López, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, Glendon Rusch, Bob Howry, Jerome Williams, Matt Clement, Sergio Mitre, Randy Wells, Roberto Novoa, Félix Heredia, Billy Petrick, Michael Wuertz, Carlos Villanueva, David Patton, Rich Harden, Rich Hill, Travis Wood, LaTroy Hawkins, David Aardsma, Shawn Estes, Thomas Diamond, John Grabow and Sean Marshall.

Over the course of Pujols’ MLB career,  393 different players have appeared in a game for the Cubs. Don’t worry, I will NOT list them all. But here are a few: Fred McGriff, Joe Girardi and Eric Karros. The Cubs have had nine managers, including interim managers Rene Lachemann and Bruce Kimm, joining Baylor, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, Ricky Renteria and Joe Maddon

Pujols was the first player born in the 1980s to appear in a Major League game. The first from the 1990s, by the way, was Starlin Castro.

Pujols has faced Jesse Orosco (born April 21, 1957) and Freddy Peralta (born June 4, 1996). Neither pitched for the Cubs, but still… a 39 year gap!  Pujols is 39 years old.

When Pujols made his MLB debut…

  • Wrigley Field was the only NL Central ballpark around that’s still currently in use. Miller Park in Milwaukee opened four days later; PNC Park in Pittsburgh opened seven days later; Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati opened two years later; Busch Stadium opened three years after that.
  • Mark McGwire was the Cardinals starting first baseman, and at the time he still held the single season home run record with 70 (in 1998).
  • Joe Maddon was a coach for the Angels.
  • 27-year-old Theo Epstein had yet to be hired as Red Sox general manager.
  • Albert Almora Jr. was two weeks away from his seventh birthday.
  • The Cubs had only gone 92 seasons since their last World Series win.

And now, the Cubs World Series drought is at a mere two seasons. Meanwhile, Pujols is back homering at Wrigley Field. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

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USA TODAY

Javier Báez leaves Sunday's game with right heel contusion, though he expects to play on Monday

Cubs shortstop Javier Báez exited Sunday's game against the Nationals in sixth inning with a right heel contusion.

Báez appeared to turn his right ankle charging a softly hit groundball by Nationals pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the third inning. Cubs manager Joe Maddon went out to check on Báez, though the shortstop stayed in the game after a brief discussion.

Addison Russell, who was set to pinch hit for Báez in the sixth inning before Anthony Rizzo grounded into an inning-ending double play, took over at shortstop in the bottom half of the inning. Sunday was Russell's first appearance at shortstop since Sept. 19, 2018, as he recently returned from a 40-game suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy.

The move was likely precautionary, as the Cubs held a 6-1 lead when Báez exited the game and play again on Monday night. He expects to play on Monday against Jake Arrieta and the Phillies, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers.

The Nationals scored three times in the sixth inning, cutting the Cubs' lead to 6-4. Russell made a throwing error on his first attempt, though it was a deflected ball off of Hendricks' glove. While the Cubs obviously want Báez healthy and on the field, they managed to pull out a 6-5 win in his absence.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Yu Darvish vs. Jake Arrieta face off at Wrigley Field

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Yu Darvish vs. Jake Arrieta face off at Wrigley Field

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by NBC Sports Chicago Cubs producers Eric Strobel and Nate Poppen to break down Monday night's big matchup between former Cub Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.

The trio discuss the history and dynamics behind the matchup (2:00), the statistical comparison between the two pitchers over the past two seasons and their potential going forward (4:00), the difference in mental makeup between Jake and Yu (11:00), and Jake's massively important place in Cubs history (17:30).

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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