"It's nothing new," said Pujols. ""Whatever the team needs. It's not about me."
Well, okay. To get from "what the team needs" to "make Pujols start at third for the first time since 2002, when he shared the position with Placido Polanco, and first base was blocked by Tino Martinez" involves some complex leaps. So far as I can tell:
- The team needs Allen Craig to hit against Cliff Lee.
- But it also needs Lance Berkman to hit right-handed against Cliff Lee
- But it needs someone else at second with the Phillies' left-handers at the plate.
- But it forgot that Allen Craig is theoretically a third baseman.
- But it needs—but it needs Albert Pujols to play out of position?
I'm glad Pujols is the kind of star player who looks at being moved from the position he's played for seven solid seasons to the position he hasn't played in nine and says, "Well, okay," because otherwise he wouldn't have lasted 10 years with Tony La Russa, but I'm not sure there's a way for us mortals to understand the logic of this move without the final step being, "I want to put Albert Pujols at third base."
If this is some kind of inscrutable managerial tactic to get Albert Pujols hitting again, though, I'm fine with it, so long as his elbow is in fair shape. (I think the persistent fear of his elbow is kind of like the persistent fear of the Home Run Derby—we don't see Pujols take batting practice and swing for the fences every day, or throw the ball across the infield, but he's certainly doing it.)
And if it's just something that Tony La Russa thought sounded really cool—well, I can definitely relate.