ST. LOUIS — For the past decade, St. Louis likely thought it had seen the last of Albert Pujols in a Cardinals uniform. Well, not so fast.
Pujols has agreed on a one-year deal to return to the Cardinals.
Pujols was introduced to the spring training a couple hours earlier and talked to the media following the Cardinals' game against the Astros.
"I went to southern California for a while, but I felt like I never left St. Louis," Pujols said at his press conference.
Watch the full media event in the YouTube video below:
Wearing a big smile and his familiar red No. 5 jersey, Pujols emerged from beyond the right field wall at Roger Dean Stadium between the first and second innings of the game against Houston.
Cardinals pitchers, catchers and coaches sitting on chairs far down the line stood to acknowledge the three-time NL MVP, as did the fans in the stands. Pujols strolled around to the St. Louis dugout on the third base side, where he was greeted with hearty hugs and high-fives.
Pujols, 42, is expected to provide the Cardinals help in the designated hitter position, which was expanded to the National League in 2022.
As a member of the Angels and Dodgers last season, Pujols hit .236 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. Against left-handed pitchers in 2021, Pujols hit .294 with an OPS of .939, 13 home runs and 34 RBI.
In his first 11 seasons in St. Louis, Pujols amassed one of the greatest starts to a career in MLB history.
He was the Rookie of the Year, a 3-time National League MVP, a 9-time All-Star, a 6-time Silver Slugger, a 2-time Gold Glover and a 2-time World Series champion.
His 679 career home runs are the fifth-most in the history of baseball. With 21 more he would join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in the 700 home run club.
Pujols will reunite in St. Louis with former teammates Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, who he shared the field with for eight and seven years, respectively. Molina has previously stated 2022 will be his final season as a Major League player.
“I’m happy for him to be here,” Molina said. “It’s going to be a fun year. We’ve only got one thing in mind – winning another championship.”
Pujols left St. Louis following the team's 2011 championship to sign a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. The team designated Pujols for assignment in the middle of the 2021 season, and he was later signed by the Dodgers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.