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Pujols battling leg woes as Angels try to catch Athletics

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For the second game in a row, slugger Albert Pujols served as the designated hitter in the Angels' 9-4 loss to Seattle on Thursday.

The move there from first base is not a new development.

Nor will be watching Pujols' legs for however long the Angels can push this season.

After suffering a right calf strain in a game in Boston late last month, Pujols has served as DH in 21 of the 27 games in which he's played. Though he downplayed the injury and said he will be playing first base in Texas on Friday night, it's clear that he's not moving very well down the stretch.

"Right now, Albert's hanging in there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "He's had some leg issues for the past month. Some compensation goes on when you try to play with one part of your body injured, and it can affect you.

"And it's affected him in other areas. As much as we can keep him off of his legs right now, it's important."

Pujols continues to hit, batting .311 over his past 16 games, though his September numbers are his lowest for a month since May. For the month, he's hitting .281/.319/.438 with one home run and 11 RBIs in 22 games. It is his least amount of home runs and lowest slugging percentage for a month since his ice-cold start in April.

Scioscia did not elaborate on which other parts of Pujols' body have become sore while he's played through the calf injury. Neither did Pujols.

"I'm fine," says Pujols, who has been the DH in three of his past four games. "As long as I'm in the lineup, I'm fine."

With Kendrys Morales available to play first base and Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos all available for outfield duty, Scioscia calls it a "luxury" the Angels have to be able to keep Pujols' bat in the lineup even while getting him off of his feet during games.

He sat out the Detroit series Aug. 24-26 after injuring his leg in Boston because, as Scioscia says, "he couldn't get any kind of base [with his legs]. He couldn't get comfortable.

"But he's gotten through that. And he's been productive."

Pujols, a savvy if not speedy baserunner, does not appear to be running well right now. But he did crack two more doubles on Thursday, giving him 13 for the month.

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