Angels slugger Albert Pujols has undergone surgery to “release the plantar fascia on his right foot,” according to a team press release. Per the surgeon, a return to the field may be expected in about four months — which would mean Pujols may be ready to return to action near the start of the ensuing season.
The decision to go under the knife comes as a surprise given the indications given previously, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register notes on Twitter. It’s certainly additionally concerning given that Pujols required surgery to address plantar fasciitis in the same foot last fall.
Despite the procedure last year, Pujols did manage to play a full season, though he was also limited to DH duties in 123 of the games in which he played — nearly doubling his previous high. The Halos do have C.J. Cron available at first, where he spent much of 2016.
The procedure raises yet more questions about Pujols, a surefire Hall-of-Famer who just doesn’t produce like he used to. While there’s still plenty of pop in the bat — he has hit 71 home runs in the past two seasons — Pujols is no longer reaching base at even an average clip; since the start of 2015, he owns a .256/.315/.469 batting line that is steadily above league average, but hardly a major boon given his increasing defensive limitations and poorly rated baserunning.
All things considered, the $140MM owed to Pujols over the next five seasons seems as onerous as any commitment in the game. Even if he’s able to stay on the field and maintain (or slightly improve upon) his recent output, that’s an enormous sum of money for the kind of player he now is, particularly given the flood of one-dimensional sluggers available for much lesser obligations on the open market.