Albert Pujols is at first base for the Angels, batting sixth on Friday night in the first game of the season against the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.
It’s the 20th consecutive Opening Day start for Pujols, just the 17th player in major league history to start at least 20 Opening Days. Pete Rose is tops with 23.
Thirteen of the other 16 such players are in the Hall of Fame. Only Rose, Barry Bonds, and Gary Sheffield are not.
Opening Day lineups
|2B||La Stella (L)||1B||Olson (L)|
Per the Angels, Pujols is just the fifth player to make 20 Opening Day starts in his first 20 seasons, along with Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Eddie Murray, and Frank Robinson.
“As a manager, I’ve had the opportunity to really work with some outstanding players. This is a first ballot Hall of Famer, probably a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer. The numbers he’s put up are extraterrestrial kind of numbers,” manager Joe Maddon said on a pregame conference call from Oakland. “I feel very fortunate to be in this position right now [to write Pujols’ name into the lineup].”
Pujols has, unsurprisingly, done quite well on Opening Day, hitting .294/.417/.588 with five home runs and 15 runs batted in. But those first-day numbers are split like his career totals are, though to the extreme. With St. Louis, Pujols hit .415 (17-for-41) in 12 Opening Days, with four home runs.
He’s just 3-for-27 (.111) in eight previous Opening Days with the Angels, though one of those hits was a home run two years ago here in Oakland.
Pujols is 3-for-7 (.429) in his career against A’s starter Frankie Montas.
As expected, third baseman Anthony Rendon isn’t starting on Friday for the Angels, still dealing with the sore oblique. But he remains on the active roster for now, which suggests the team believes he’ll be ready to return within a week.
David Fletcher gets the start at third base in this one, leading off. He started 74 games at the position last season.
Shohei Ohtani bats third at designated hitter for the Angels. He’s 3-for-6 with a home run against Montas. The only other Angel with a homer against Montas is Taylor Ward, who’s 2-for-2 against him. Ward isn’t starting but he did make the Halos’ Opening Day roster.