By Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
OAKLAND - Albert Pujols' return to his three-time NL MVP form is not happening overnight, but rather in what Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia described as "drips and drabs.''
Pujols has been more productive this month after a brutal April in which he didn't homer once, but he's still batting only .213 with four home runs and 20 RBI, well below his norm.
In a Spanish-language interview with USA TODAY Sports before Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Oakland A's, Pujols shed some light on what has been a season of adjustments, to a new league, a new team and a new living arrangement.
The latter will change Sunday when Pujols' family - wife Deidre and their four kids - will join him in Anaheim for the duration of the school recess, bringing a sense of normalcy to his life. They are only relocating for the summer and plan to return to St. Louis when school starts again.
The following is an abbreviated version of a one-on-one interview with Pujols:
How has it been like to be without your family?
"It's been difficult but it's part of the job. My wife and my (kids) understand dad's job is outside St. Louis. It's very difficult because we have not been in that situation before, but thankfully they're coming on Sunday and we'll recover that lost time. I can't stop playing because I'm in another city. It's part of the job God wants me do to, and I want to be obedient and go where my calling is.
"Imagine those soldiers who go to Iraq and spend two or three years without seeing their families. For me it's only two or three weeks. I'm thankful God has given us the technology where we can see each other through Skype on the computer. It's not the same thing, but at least we can see each other. Imagine the time before when that wasn't available and people had to go defend our country. It's really hard. I go two weeks without seeing my family and I go crazy.''
You've been getting better results of late:
"It's just part of baseball, just like it can be hitting 10 home runs in the first month. It's not how you start the season, it's how you finish. If you wind up helping the team make the playoffs, that's what you play for. You don't play to put up your numbers, but to try to get a chance to make it to the World Series.''
But part of the team getting there is you helping offensively:
"If I can do my job, I will. If not, there are 25 players on the team and we all have to do our job. One person alone is not in charge of the whole ship. You need to have all 25 players do their job.''
How difficult has it been to change leagues?:
"It's very hard because you're seeing pitchers you haven't faced before, but that's what videos and scouting reports are for. It's not the same thing as facing pitchers, but you have to make your adjustments. I know this is going to be a learning year, a time to find out what the league is doing against you, although I'm not going to wait a year. I'm making my adjustments now and feeling better. The second time around has been better. You have to focus on positives like that, not on the negatives.''
What have you done to avoid pressing?:
"There's always pressure with the game and sometimes you try to do too much. But I've been in this situation before and I've learned a lot. I just try to relax and know I can play at this level, and also prepare. Those are the things I've done this month. It took me some time to adjust in April, I don't know why. Things like that happen and you try to learn from them. Now I just have to move forward and we'll see how things look at the end of the season.''
How has it been to adjust to living in Southern California?:
"It's bigger than St. Louis, but the fans are the same. We have great fans. They fill the stadium every day. Anaheim is not like Los Angeles, where there are more people and more paparazzi. You don't have that in Anaheim. It's more laid-back.''